The Caribbean Export Development Agency is dedicated to expanding the 11th European Development Fund’s (EDF) Regional Private Sector Development Programme so as to ensure that more Caribbean firms can successfully export their products to an increasing number of countries.
This assertion came from Chairperson of the Board of Directors of Caribbean Export, Cecile Humphrey, who is also the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade.
She was speaking at the launch of the programme on Wednesday, at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, where officials of the Caribbean Export and the European Union also signed the 11th EDF agreement, worth EUR 24 million, to support regional private sector development.
Mrs. Humphrey said the Board and management of Caribbean Export were keen on ensuring that the level of achievement of the programme under the 11th EDF would surpass the results of the previous one.
She praised the work of the Caribbean Export, saying: “Its contribution to the gradual integration of CARIFORUM countries into the global economy and the enhancement of regional economic growth has been outstanding.”
She explained that over the years, the Agency’s extensive programme had been designed primarily to deepen trade, investment and cooperation within the Caribbean and to enhance the competitiveness of regional Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs).
Mrs. Humphrey pointed out that access to finance had been a perennial challenge for SMEs in the Caribbean and said she was pleased the Direct Assistance Grants Scheme had provided access to finance for Caribbean firms operating across several sectors. According to her, about EUR 5.8 million had been awarded to SMEs during the 10th EDF.
Under the 11th EDF, focus will be placed on market penetration, supply chain and intelligence frameworks, increased access to finance, and the promotion of green energy and energy efficiency as key factors in lowering cost.