- The European Commission has allayed Malawian government's fears that it would be denied cooperation aid for not signing the much-touted Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs). The EC assured Malawi of reciving cooperation aid, despite not signing the European Union-designed agreement.
The commission's assurance came on the heels of President Bingu wa Mutharika's accusations in April that the EU was punishing countries that refused to sign the partnership agreement. Also blaming the EU of "imperialism", the Malawian leader said the economic body would threaten to withhold aid from the European Development Fund.
Malawi is among African countries that refused to sign the interim EPAs at the end of last year. The country's leadership was convinced that the EPAs would be harmful to their economy.
While President Mutharika ruled out the signing of the agreement, Malawian Minister of Trade and Industry, Ted Kalebe, hoped the ongoing discussions on EPAs would come to a meaningful conclusion on or before the year ends.
In the wake of rising protest against the EPA by several non-governmental organisations who among others feared slumps in liberalisation and economic controls among other economic shocks, the EU\'s head of mission to Malawi, insisted that the agreement would not harm the country.
Alessandro Mariani said the country's refusal to sign the agreement would not stop the EU from supporting Malawi with more than 450 million euros.
"Please allow me to reconfirm that there is no link between access to grants allocated to Malawi under the European Development Fund and signing the EPAs," he told his audience at the European commemoration day in Lilongue.
Earlier, the EC issued a statement assuring that the EDF was not connected to the EPAs.
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