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Basically, entrêpot trade is the process of re-exporting goods that have been imported into a country without the package having undergone any repackaging or additional processing. When translated, the term means entry port trade, and it avoids the payment of any import or export duties when the package is sent out from that port.

In other words, entrêpot trade is a process in which goods are imported in one country with the express purpose of having them end up in a different country. In a case like this, a trader becomes both the importer and the exporter of these goods.

For example, if a South African company were to import wool from Australia and export it immediately to Zimbabwe, this would be called entrêpot trade for South Africa.

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Entrepôt trade refers to the practice of re-exporting goods with or without processing or re-packaging them again. This type of trade occurs at duty-free ports, where these goods do not have additional import or export duties, or taxes, placed upon them. These ports were particularly important during the period of mercantilism in the Middle Ages and shortly afterward, when they were used to ship goods between Europe and its colonies and outposts in Asia and the Middle East. In mercantilism, a country's government was still the main regulator of the economy, and certain cities were designated as staple ports (which required merchants to unload their goods from ships at that port and trade them within a few days). Traders often did not want to travel along the entire trade route to sell their goods, so they deposited them in entrepôts. Important entrepôt ports included Amsterdam, Venice, Hong Kong, Macao, and Dubai. 

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