For almost four decades, Canada has been a strong and reliable partner of the Inter-American Development Bank. It joined the IDB, the world’s oldest and largest regional development bank, in 1972, several years before it became a member of the Organization of American States.
Among the IDB’s 22 non-borrowing member countries, Canada is the third largest shareholder, contributing with just over 4 percent of its ordinary capital. The Canadian government has often shown its commitment to the IDB and its goals of reducing poverty and inequality in Latin America and the Caribbean. In 2008, as the global financial crisis gripped the region, Canada boldly doubled its contribution of callable capital on a temporary basis, allowing the IDB to step up its lending. That decisive action has since become a template for international response to financial crises. And during the following two years Canada played a leading role in the negotiations to conclude the IDB’s Ninth General Capital Increase.
Canada’s involvement with the IDB predates its joining as a member country. In 1964 it established the Canadian Fund with the equivalent of $47.2 million to support investments in physical infrastructure in Latin American countries. In 2001 it provided the equivalent of $11.2 million to fund the Canadian Technical Cooperation Fund, which financed consultancy services with an emphasis on social reforms. A strong proponent of free trade, in 2003 the Canadian government established the IDB-Canada Trade Fund, which finances the preparation of trade-related projects.
In addition, Canada is a significant contributor to the IDB’s Multilateral Investment Fund, a leading promoter of microfinance in Latin America and the Caribbean. Since 1993 the MIF has backed more than 1,000 projects in this region, mobilizing more than $2.2 billion.
In recent years, as part of its diplomatic strategy for the Western Hemisphere, Canada has continued to strengthen its links with its Latin American and Caribbean neighbors. The Canadian government’s commitment to promoting economic and social development in this region is exemplified by its support for Haiti. Over the past decade Canada provided tens of millions of dollars in grants to the Haitian government to supplement IDB-financed investments in infrastructure, particularly in roads connecting some of the most remote regions of the country.
After the 2010 earthquake Canada became a leader in the international response to Haiti’s plight. Its government was one of the first to forgive its share of Haiti’s foreign debt. At present, in coordination with the IDB and other multilateral and bilateral donors, Canada is making generous contributions to Haiti’s education reform, which seeks to ensure access to quality schools for all Haitian children.
Canada has hosted annual meetings of the IDB Board of Governors in two occasions: in 1978 in Vancouver and in 1990 in Montreal. This year it is hosting its third annual meeting, in Calgary.
- Peter Bate