Demand for the European Union (EU)-funded standby facility has increased dramatically, so much so that the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) has indicated that applications for assistance through the 11th European Development Fund (EDF) the programme is oversubscribed.
“The high demand for financing of interventions focused on enhancing the regional trading environment was evident by the overwhelming response to a call for proposals issued by the bank in February,” a news release from the CDB, dated yesterday, stated.
Formally known as the Caribbean Forum (CARIFORUM)-European Union (EU) Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Single Market and Economy (CSME) Standby Facility for Capacity Building, the facility received approximately 50 applications from 14 countries in the CARIFORUM region.
The facility aims to provide support to organisations in the public and private sectors that promote integration of Caribbean economies into the global marketplace with a focus on European markets. Under the previous facility, 10th EDF, the regional bank provided support for 28 trade-related projects.
“The high demand for financing of interventions focused on enhancing the regional trading environment was evident by the overwhelming response to a call for proposals issued by the bank in February.”— Caribbean Development Bank
Commenting on the current installation of the EDF, CDB Director of Projects Daniel Best noted that the increase in requests to access the EUR 8.75 million resource is an indication of the growing demand for business support services across CARICOM.
“CDB’s ongoing partnership with the EU continues to demonstrate the need for initiatives that can positively impact both the capabilities of regional entrepreneurs and national trading environments,” he stated.
The director also commended member countries for showing resilience and adaptability, despite disruptions from the coronavirus pandemic, by ensuring continuity in the processing of applications.
According to Calvin Manduna, project manager of the 11th EDF, “The onset of COVID-19 and its effect on trade in the Caribbean highlight the exigency of increased support to strengthen the private sector, intra-regional trade and increase utilisation of trade preferences under the CSME and the EPA.”
Meanwhile, the CDB is reviewing projects which aim to improve competitiveness and market access, increase exports, and expand and support the services and agro-processing sectors.The bank is also assessing projects that seek to improve local and regional quality infrastructure and standards bodies and trade facilitation.
Evaluation of submissions will be completed in the upcoming months and all short-listed projects are subject to final approval by an oversight committee comprised of CDB, CARIFORUM, CARICOM and EU representatives. Implementation in the beneficiary countries is scheduled to commence in the third quarter of 2020.
“CDB and the European Union, through the Standby Facility and similar projects, are building on a longstanding relationship focused on activities that advance implementation and trade under the CARIFORUM-EU EPA and the CSME,” the news release also said.