The Barbados-based Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) Friday said it had launched a new round of an Euro 8.7 million (One Euro=US$1.29 cents) programme with the European Union (EU) designed to make Caribbean businesses better equipped to access new trade opportunities.
It said the CARIFORUM-European Union Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) and the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) Standby Facility for Capacity Building, will be financed by the 11th European Development Fund (EDF) and administered by CDB.
The programme was launched in Antigua on Thursday and the island’s Foreign Affairs, Trade and Immigration Minister, E.P. Chet Greene, noted that “as small developing States, there is a need for us to become more economically resilient.
The CDB said through the programme, it will select and fund projects to build capacity in the public and private sectors so that Caribbean businesses can take full advantage of the EPA and CSME agreements, and trade successfully in the EU and throughout CARIFORUM.
“These Standby Facilities are designed to address some of these challenges. [They] were created out of a need for a flexible and rapid mechanism to provide capacity building to CARICOM and CARIFORUM Member States.– Trade policy manager with the EU Delegation, Adam Wisniewski
The director of projects at the CDB, Daniel Best said the programme aligned with the bank’s ongoing work to improve trade facilitation in the Region.
“These funds have the potential to facilitate significant progress in improving intra-regional trade and making it easier for our private sector, especially MSMEs (medium, small medium enterprises), to access international markets,” he said.
Trade policy manager with the EU Delegation, Adam Wisniewski, acknowledged that “many have asked questions about the effectiveness of the EPA signed more than 10 years ago and the real pace of the CSME implementation.”
He said that the programme was designed to help the region overcome some of the challenges that have slowed full implementation of the EPA and CSME, including strengthening capacity, legislative drafting and support of the CSME focal points.
“These Standby Facilities are designed to address some of these challenges. [They] were created out of a need for a flexible and rapid mechanism to provide capacity building to CARICOM and CARIFORUM Member States,” he added.
Under the first initiative, nearly 30 projects were funded in the agriculture, food processing and manufacturing industries.