“Aid For Trade” Launches in Haiti

By: Caribbean Journal Staff - June 11, 2013

Above: CARICOM Secretary General Irwin LaRocque

By the Caribbean Journal staff

The Caribbean officially launched its CARICOM “Regional Aid for Trade” strategy at a ceremony in Haiti on Tuesday.

Aid for Trade, a partnership with the Inter-American Development Bank and the Commonwealth Secretariat, seeks to build supply-side capacity and trade-related infrastructure to help the region expand its aid.

The issue, according to CARICOM Secretary General Irwin LaRocque, is that, while Caribbean nations have signed a number of trade agreements with developed partners, they do not necessarily have the infrastructure available to capitalize on the agreements.

“Market access must be converted to market presence if CARICOM Member States are to compete equitably in the global market,” CARICOM Secretary General Irwin LaRocque said. “Resources made available under Aid for Trade would help in this regard.”

Some of the areas that could use help under the strategy are those such as upgrading economic infrastructure, enhancing export competitiveness, strengthening regional integration and support for innovation, he said.

“Given the dynamism, intense competitiveness and deep difficulties of the global economy, small states like ours must seek all possible avenues to give them a chance at competing in the international marketplace,” LaRocque said. “Global consensus over the past thirty years has been that trade expansion has a critical role to play in achieving a viable, prosperous and above all sustainable, path to development.”

LaRocque said that the importance of the trade has been underscored as access to concessionary loans and grants has been increasingly denied to many Caribbean nations due to graduation and differentiation, which evaluate countries based on income per capita.

He warned that unless “urgent action” was taken to change the evaluation criteria, the debt per capita of the Caribbean could escalate.

“The contribution of Aid for Trade to the growth and development of CARICOM countries hinges significantly on the acceptance of the international community, and our development partners in particular of the realities of our situation,” he said. “In so doing, it would be desirable for them to provide additional sources of financing, especially in grant form and in a manner that is easily accessible. This calls for applying innovative mechanisms in order to supply the requisite financial and technical support to CARICOM Member States.”

The strategy was launched in Haiti as the country is the current Chair of CARICOM.

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