UK spending millions to support Caribbean trade and integration efforts
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Thursday October 20, 2011 – The United Kingdom wants to see the Caribbean take advantage of the duty free access for its goods into the European Union (EU) granted through the economic partnership agreement between this region and the EU, and it is giving the Caribbean the funding to make it happen.
This was among the messages shared at a high-level press briefing highlighting work on the through the £10mn Caribbean Aid for Trade and Regional Integration Trust Fund (CARTFund) held at the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) recently.
The meeting saw CDB President, Dr Warren Smith, welcome to the regional bank the UK’s Minister of State for International Development Alan Duncan, as well as Percival Marie and Pamela Coke-Hamilton representing the CARICOM Secretariat and the Caribbean Export Development Agency respectively
Giving a UK perspective, Minister Alan Duncan stated, “The Caribbean must increase exports by taking advantage of its enhanced access to European markets. More exports means improved growth, investment and job creation. So I am delighted that we have been able to support the Caribbean through CARTFund to fully exploit these export opportunities."
The CARTFund was established with £10 million of funding from the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID). The Fund is managed by CDB and overseen by a Steering Committee comprising representatives from DFID, CARICOM and CARIFORUM. CARTFund supports the implementation of the CSME and the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between CARIFORUM and the EU, with the aim of increasing trade within the region and with Europe, and ultimately providing more jobs and increased incomes for Caribbean people.
CDB President, Dr. Warren Smith, confirmed that as the Caribbean’s own bank, the CDB had been pleased to facilitate the flow of UK aid to the region through CARTFund, consistent with the Bank’s mandate. He stated, “The objectives of the CARTFund to boost growth, reduce poverty and increase member countries’ participation in the CSME are directly aligned with the Bank’s commitment to supporting regional cooperation and regional integration. We are extremely pleased with the operations of the CARTFund to date and this is testament to the successful partnership between the UK, and CARICOM. The Bank remains fully committed to working with its partners to ensure that our member countries realise the full benefits that the potential for expansion in trade intra-regionally, with Europe and the rest of the world offers.”
To date, 30 CARTFund projects totalling approximately US $13.5 million have been approved, out of 119 proposals received. They include 8 regional projects and 22 national projects in 14 countries. The CARTFund portfolio is diverse, including support to simplify trade procedures, increase access to EU and regional markets, manage the EPA implementation process and improve competition policy, as well as sectoral work on tourism, specialty foods and accounting. All these will make it easier to trade in the region and help businesses improve their ability to sell their goods and services to Europe and beyond.
The investment is already yielding results, although many projects are still in their early stages. For example, under the Caribbean Export Specialty Foods project, one producer has already secured distribution of its products in a 300-store national chain in the US. The CARTFund Programme itself was even identified by CARICOM earlier this year as an example of best practice in delivering aid for trade to the region at the WTO Global Review. Grant recipients such as Caribbean Export have also valued the support available through CARTFund and the work of the CDB.
All this augurs well for the future of the Fund and the success of the projects financed. The UK’s £10 million contribution forms part of the UK’s wider Caribbean development programme focussing on wealth creation, governance and security and climate change. In February 2011 the Secretary of State for International Development, Andrew Mitchell, announced the allocation of £75 million for the Caribbean (2011-15), as part of the review of UK aid.