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Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Malawi Considers Controversial EU Trade Deal

Malawi has opened up negotiations on the economic partnership agreement (EPA) with the European Union, which have been deadlocked since 2002. The new round of negotiations may see President Joyce Banda’s administration change the status quo and sign the free trade agreement. The EU extended the deadline for African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries, which includes Malawi, to negotiate the EPAs from 2014 to 2016.
President Bingu wa Mutharika, who died after a heart attack in April this year, had refused to sign the agreement, demanding that rural roads, health and education facilities be taken care of before signing an EPA. Mutharika, a former U.N. trade expert, believed that the EPA would reinforce Malawi’s position as an exporter of low-value agriculture commodities, deprive government of policy space to use tariffs to protect livelihoods, and grow the manufacturing sector. However, the new administration is reviewing all the arguments against the EPA, shifting focus on what the country stands to gain from the agreement.

Source: IPS News

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