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EU challenges Malawi on €150 billion package

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URGES REMOVAL OF RED TAPE— Skinnebach

By Deogratias Mmana

The European Union (EU) has challenged Malawi to remove red tape and other bottlenecks to be able to tap from the €150 billion the EU has dangled to Africa under the Africa- Europe programme.

EU Ambassador to Malawi Rune Skinnebach said this yesterday at a news conference ahead of the sixth European Union-African Union summit to be held in Brussels from February 17 to 18.

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On February 10 2022, EU president Ursula von der Leyen announced in Senegal the availability of more than €150 billion package for Africa for developments on the continent.

Skinnebach challenged Malawi to put in place conducive structures that could attract investors to the country.

“If Malawi were to catalyse more on Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) there are a number of things to be addressed. Some of them are linked to red tape, predictability and land ownership. Some of them are linked to rules and regulations.

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“Those working in the field are well aware of how to facilitate the lives of foreign investors whilst keeping them framed so they don’t go outside the boundaries of what we consider normal for foreign investors because there is always a balance between being attractive and keeping control,” Skinnebach said.

He said the African package aside, the EU has just signed a new multi-annual indicative programme with Malawi for €352 million for the next three years.

Justifying President Lazarus Chakwera’s participation at the summit, Skinnebach said the President and ministers will be able to meet with high-level counterparts on critical topics for Malawi: Climate action and finance, green and sustainable growth and health issues.

He added that the EU has provided some funds for Chakwera’s trip to the EU.

A statement from the EU added that Malawi, as Chair of Southern African Development Community (Sadc), a body receiving EU financial support, needs to be part of the conversation at the summit which is taking place after five years.

“We see the presence of President Chakwera in Brussels as an excellent opportunity to strengthen the government’s more ambitious approach to foreign policy and to cement even further the excellent relationship Malawi and the EU are enjoying,” the statement reads.

The statement says Malawi will have an opportunity to present its case for Official Development Assistance (ODA).

“While our relationship is bound to evolve towards a more mature one, it is undeniable that ODA still plays an important role in our work here in Malawi. Therefore, going to Brussels and building a case for continued support is critical for Malawi buts needs to be done by also addressing the question of what is in it for Europeans,” the statement reads.

The summit will be co-chaired by the president of the European Council and the Chair of the African Union. The last summit took place in Abidjan in November 2017.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in its February 11 2022 statement that Chakwera will also lobby for support towards relief efforts to mitigate the effects of Tropical Storm Ana.

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