Much to lose little to gain: assessing EPAs from the perspective of Malawi

Much to lose little to gain: assessing EPAs from the perspective of Malawi

How can the EU make EPAs more beneficial for the ACP? Views from Malawi

The EU is the single largest market for Malawi’s exports and a key source of imports. For the EU, however, trade with Malawi accounts for very little of their overall trade activity. This report gives the Malawian perpective on the implementation of the Economic Partnership Agreements and assesses the likely impact the agreements will have.

The report highlights some potential threats to Malawi's development:

  • reinforcement of Malawi’s position as an exporter of low-value, unprocessed commodities, undermining the government’s development strategy for adding value to goods with manufacturing
  • undermining the regional integration between Malawi and its neighbours
  • a significant loss of tax revenue from imports and other major adjustment costs

Some recommendations for the EU include:

  • setting a framework that allows ACP countries market access to the EU at near today's levels whilst allowing ACP countries to retain their tariff barriers
  • changing article 24 of the GATT to allow special and differential treatment for developing countries within their regional trade agreements
  • providing assistance to ACP countries to help them adjust to removal of their preferences
  • undertaking an urgent examination of alternatives to EPAs
  • prioritising EPAs and sustainable relationships with ACP when considering German and Portuguese presidencies this year
  • ceasing to use the WTO waiver’s expiry deadline to put pressure on the ACP
  • respecting regional integration processes already underway in Africa and ensuring ACP-EU agreements do not undermine them
  • ensuring that the EPA review process is transparent, comprehensive, consultative and inclusive

The report also includes some specific recommendations for the UK government.