The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) today approved a new strategy for support to the Caribbean Community’s (CARICOM’s) regional integration process in the period 2007-2010.
The main objective of the strategy is to help Caribbean countries transform their regional integration process into an effective instrument of global integration, competitiveness and economic growth.
“The approval of this strategy by the Board of Directors strengthens the Bank's role as an important partner in the region's social and economic progress,” said Jerry Butler, Executive Director for the Bahamas, Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago.
The strategy proposes two main areas of strategic focus. The first is full intra-regional market liberalization, aligned with CARICOM’s external liberalization efforts and effectively managing the distributional risks of liberalization. Specifically, the Bank will support CARICOM in its efforts to eliminate remaining restrictions to the free flow of goods, services, capital and people within the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME); align its regional and global integration agendas; establish effective regional mechanisms for adjustment support to help disadvantaged countries, regions and sectors in CARICOM manage the integration process; and facilitate private sector development within a more open trading environment.
The second strategic area is regional cooperation to improve CARICOM’s social and economic infrastructure in critical areas of development. The aim is to support horizontal initiatives that benefit all productive sectors, and to focus on initiatives that can improve, at a lower costs to members, the region’s existing infrastructure and related services.
Following these objectives, the Bank will offer support to five specific areas of regional cooperation: information and communications technology (ICT); energy; disaster risk management; statistics; and initiatives aimed at strengthening the management of the integration process itself, in terms of planning, monitoring and awareness building.
The Bank will work with regional authorities in CARICOM to develop a specific pipeline of projects in support of the strategy. In the last five years, the Bank and its Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF) have provided grant funding of $2.7 million a year on average for regional integration and cooperation programs in CARICOM.
Currently, the Bank is supporting 30 regional projects in the Caribbean, with contributions totaling over $14 million in grant funding. The Bank’s regional programs complement national activities in its Caribbean borrowing member countries.
CARICOM is one of the oldest and most advanced integration arrangements in the Western Hemisphere. It is the largest in terms of membership yet by far the smallest in economic size. Eight of CARICOM’s 15 member states are also borrowing members of the IDB. The Bank has moreover established a partnership with the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) to extend technical and financial support to the remaining seven member states of CARICOM, which comprise the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).