Caribbean Export and the European Union Launch the Regional Private Sector Development Programme III

In a significant move to fortify the Caribbean private sector, the Caribbean Export Development Agency (Caribbean Export) and the European Union (EU) have formalized their commitment with the signing of a new agreement, heralding the launch of the Regional Private Sector Development Programme III.

The new Regional Private Sector Development Programme III (RPSDP), with a total co-financed budget allocation of €12 million (€8 million EU contribution) over four years, builds upon the previous programmes, addressing critical challenges the private sector is facing in the region and fostering economic resilience and growth. This programme is a clear example on how the European Union is delivering the Global Gateway strategy in the Caribbean. The Global Gateway is the EU’s offer to bridge the existing investment gap in the areas of fair, green and digital transition, by using EU public financing to leverage private capital and investment for projects that deliver on key public policy objectives.

The signing ceremony held on November 23rd, 2023 at the Residence of the European Union Ambassador in Barbados, saw the Deputy Director-General for International Partnerships for the European Commission, Myriam Ferran, emphasizing that “the European Union wants to do more business with the Caribbean in key areas such as clean and sustainable energies, transport infrastructure, digital transformation, health and education”

She went on to highlight “the European Union want to be the region’s partner of choice. And for that, the EU is putting at the region’s disposal not only financial support but also a combination of hard infrastructure investments with flanking measures in the regulatory frameworks, improving the business and investment environment, developing human capital, and building a more secure global supply chain”.

Caribbean Export has been a trusted implementing partner of the European Union for close to three decades and remains committed to driving economic transformation through private sector development. This new RPSDP III places more emphasis on the areas that can accelerate regional development. These focus areas include green economy and digital transition; Small and Medium Enterprise access to finance through the expansion of the range of financial offerings; and the expansion of trade and investment under the CARIFORUM-EU Economic Partnership Agreement.

Deodat Maharaj, Executive Director at Caribbean Export underscored to critical importance of the private sector to the regions development: “The private sector is at the forefront of Caribbean economies, and empowering it is crucial for sustainable development and resilience.” He went on to share “this programme is a transformative step towards building a more resilient private sector, fostering innovation, and unlocking the vast potential for trade and investment in the Caribbean region.”

Recognizing the pivotal role of the private sector, including Micro Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs), in driving economic recovery and growth, the programme seeks to overcome structural impediments within business ecosystems. These include regulatory bottlenecks, limited access to finance, inadequate business support organizations, and critical infrastructure gaps.

The RPSDP III, aims at supporting firm competitiveness, diversification and export potential with strong focus on green transition and digital transformation.

This comprehensive program encompasses a transition to green practices and business models. Central to its vision is the empowerment of SMEs, with a focus on broadening financial landscapes through equity financing, venture capital, and angel investing. Additionally, RPSDP III seeks to enhance trade and investment by strengthening technical capabilities for EU trade standards and fostering robust B2B linkages, creating a mutually beneficial relationship between the Caribbean and the EU under the Economic Partnership Agreement.

As a catalyst for economic transformation the Regional Private Sector Development Programme III signals a new era for the Caribbean private sector, poised to overcome challenges, embrace sustainability, and unlock unprecedented opportunities for growth, innovation, and international collaboration.