IDB and UK recommit to Caribbean private sector development

In a press release from its Country Office in Bridge-town, Barbados, the IDB said that the ‘Compete Caribbean’ programme is an initiative jointly designed by IDB, DFID and the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) which will benefit 15 Cariforum countries and is expected to be approved by the IDB Board of Executive Directors in March this year.

The IDB is the main source of multilateral lending for Latin America and the Caribbean.

According to the release, the ‘Compete Caribbean’ programme will establish an Enterprise Innovation Chal-lenge 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 through supporting regulatory reform and public-private dialogue, within a comprehensive private sector development framework.

Meanwhile DFID’s Direc-tor for Middle East, Carib-bean, Asia (North, Central and East) and the British Overseas Territories Sue Wardell, confirmed a £10 million contribution (around US$15.8 million) to the programme. “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 IDB release quoted Wardell as saying.

“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.”

And IDB programme Team Leader Jose Jorge Saavedra said that “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’ programme responds to these demands and will support governments and businesses in generating employment and economic growth.”

Aid for Trade

In the meantime, DFID provided the first contribution to an IDB-launched multi-donor Aid for Trade Strategic Fund in December 2009, with £910,000 (around US$1,480,000) committed to helping 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,” said 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 programmes, 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 Carib-bean 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.”

The release also noted that a high-level regional review with government and private sector participants from all countries of the region was held last year in Jamaica. The review was held 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.

DFID/IDB Cooperation

DFID has been a generous contributor of grant resources to the IDB over the past 15 years, the release stated, and during the 2000s, DFID continued to finance innovative pro-poor technical cooperation with the Markets and Governance Poverty Reduction Fund for US$6.85 million and the Trade and Poverty Fund for US$1.6 million. In addition, DFID, the organization leading the British government’s fight against world poverty, has also made smaller co-financing contributions to specific IDB projects.

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