A plan of action to support trade in several Caribbean states was launched last week. The newly announced UK Trade Partnerships Programme will help CARIFORUM states to maximise the benefits of their Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) and increase their exports to the UK.
Conceived by the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) and delivered by the International Trade Centre (ITC), the UK Trade Partnerships (UKTP) Programme aims to create a more transparent business environment across all CARIFORUM States, for example by making comprehensive and up-to-date trade and market information available and supporting SMEs to access it and by establishing mechanisms to monitor trade obstacles.
The programme will also work with businesses, trade support institutions and other key stakeholders in Jamaica, Saint Lucia and the Dominican Republic to boost exports in the creative and specialty foods sectors.
A virtual meeting hosted last week by ITC brought together trade officials, development agencies, public and private trade support institutions and exporters from across 14 countries to discuss the programme’s objectives, interventions and intended impact.
The UK is committed to supporting developing countries to grow their economies and reduce poverty through trade. Programmes like UKTP are more important than ever in the current global health and economic crisis, to keep supply chains open and to build diverse and resilient export capacity in the Caribbean in the long-term.
In her opening address delivered via videoconference, UK Minister for the Caribbean, Baroness Sugg said: “The UK Trade Partnerships Programme is globally more important than ever. We are working with the International Trade Centre to launch it in the Caribbean to do more to promote trade and to boost economic development in the region. It will support Caribbean Forum states to maximise the benefits of their economic ties, increase exports, create jobs, and find innovative ways to help their products reach new markets. As the world recovers from this pandemic, this programme will support the Caribbean’s long-term economic recovery.”
ITC’s Acting Executive Director, Dorothy Tembo said: “Through the UKTP we will support CARIFORUM to explore new markets, prioritise value added products, digitalise, and strengthen the creative industries’ value chain. Concrete COVID-responses are being rolled out to support COVID-19 affected businesses in CARIFORUM.”
The UK has also recently announced £5 million of new support to help address the impact of COVID-19 in the Caribbean, including £3 million to the Pan-American Health Organisation for essential medical supplies and management support to help public health systems around the region combat the virus. A further £2 million will be used to scale up assistance for the most vulnerable households, and to help counter domestic violence against women and children.