Agencies Discuss Progress In Caribbean Trade Integration
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
The United Kingdom Department of International Development (DFID) and the Inter-American
Development Bank (IDB) discussed today progress made in joint trade support and
in the preparation of projects to promote private sector development and competitiveness
in the Caribbean.
The two bodies reviewed progress made towards their new initiative, the Compete
Caribbean Programme, jointly designed by IDB, DFID and the Canadian International
Development Agency (CIDA), which is set to be launched to benefit 15 CARIFORUM
countries from March 2010.
The Compete Caribbean program will establish an Enterprise Innovation Challenge
Fund offering matching grants to private sector businesses - clusters, and small
and medium-sized enterprises – to help them develop innovative products
and services that are able to compete in regional and global markets.
Compete Caribbean will also support business climate reforms - to create a
sound enabling environment for private sector growth – by supporting regulatory
reform and public-private dialogue, within a comprehensive private sector development
DFID’s Director for Middle East, Caribbean, Asia (North, Central and
East) and the British Overseas Territories, Sue Wardell, explained, “innovation
in the private sector is crucial for the Caribbean to recover from the economic
downturn and move their economies on to a high growth trajectory.”
“The Enterprise Innovation Challenge Fund, in particular, can provide
a launching pad for new business ideas which expand the regional export base
and help Caribbean companies to access international markets."
IDB program Team Leader, Jose Jorge Saavedra, added:
“Consultations with over 120 decision makers from the public and private
sector, as well as regional institutions, confirmed the need for business climate
reforms to promote private sector development as well as firm-level technical
assistance to increase productivity, innovation and access to global markets.”
“The Compete Caribbean program responds to these demands and will support
governments and businesses in generating employment and economic growth.”
The two organizations also reviewed progress made under their Aid for Trade
initiative. DFID provided the first contribution to an IDB launched multidonor
Aid for Trade Strategic Fund in December 2009, with GBP910,000 (around USD1.48m).
The fund is designed to help the public and private sectors in Latin America
and the Caribbean to integrate into the global economy.
“The Aid for Trade fund plays a key role in enhancing Caribbean countries
capacity to take advantage of trade liberalization opportunities by helping
them to address important constraints which impede them from benefiting of market
access,” explained IDB Aid for Trade Coordinator, Carolyn Robert. “This
is particularly relevant for small countries in the context of current trade
liberalization efforts undertaken by the Caribbean with major trading partners
and of declining trade volumes as a result of the global economic crisis.”
“The fund will support these countries by channeling grants to develop
trade adjustment assistance programs, enhance trade facilitation, and improve
institutional capacity to design and implement trade policy, including recently
concluded trade agreements, like the Economic Partnership Agreement signed between
CARIFORUM and the European Union,” added Pamela Coke Hamilton, IDB Trade
Specialist in Barbados. “As the fund represents an important tool in addressing
priority issues in the Caribbean regional trade agenda, DFID and the IDB are
working closely with other regional organizations, governments and the private
sector to set priorities and coordinate efforts.”
A high level regional review with government and private sector participants
from all countries of the region was held last year in Jamaica in order to monitor
progress in the implementation of the Aid for Trade initiative to support mainstreaming
trade into national and regional development agendas, to foster regional approaches
and to promote donor coordination.
The Aid for Trade fund covers activities under four areas: (i) trade policy,
negotiation and implementation agreements; (ii) trade facilitation and private
sector development; (iii) initiatives that help connect markets that are complimentary
to physical infrastructure, such as the harmonization of regulatory frameworks
and the reduction of transit costs; and (iv) trade-related adjustment activities
to help countries adapt to trade liberalization.