BRIDGETOWN, Barbados – Creating greater export opportunities for Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in agriculture to access more markets and build resilience is the focus of a new project in the Dominican Republic, funded by the European Union (EU) and managed by the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB).
The two-year initiative entitled “Strengthening the Export Capacity of Agro-Producers in the Dominican Republic to Access the European Union and CARIFORUM Markets,” is made possible through the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), and the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) Standby Facility for Capacity Building.
During his speech to introduce the project in Santo Domingo on July 20 2022, Daniel Best, director of projects, CDB, stated: “While we are launching this project in the Dominican Republic, its results will boost value chains across the CARIFORUM food industry leading to more integrated food systems and a more productive, diversified and competitive market. CDB believes that increasing regional trade is a practical response to dynamic growth and pivotal to the recovery of region’s pandemic-strained economies.”
The project will enhance the food production value chains involving the country’s main crops such as mangoes and oriental vegetables. It will support re-positioning the sector to increase access to regional and international markets, including the EU, through a strengthened food safety system. Agro-producers through the umbrella body, the Dominican Association of Exporters (ADOEXPO), will participate and benefit from the project’s interventions.
The Dominican Republic’s minister of industry, trade and MSMEs, Victor Ito Bisonó, who spoke at the launch and emphasised the importance and timeliness of the project, “Due to the challenges faced by our exporters to reach the markets where we have presence, the ministry is working to strengthen our productive sectors in order to grow and diversify Dominican exports.”
Katja Afheldt, extraordinary and plenipotentiary ambassador of the European Union to the Dominican Republic added: “This Project is critical in providing support to the Dominican Republic’s export sector as the country battles the economic fallout caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. It is expected its results will also lead to a pro-competitive local investment and business climate within a framework of social responsibility.”
Pavel Isa Contreras, minister of economy, planning and development, Dominican Republic stated: “We will support the implementation of this project, understanding the link between trade and development, supporting the creation of new jobs and generation of wealth for the benefit of the country, and finally impacting the quality of life of the people.”
Alexis Downes-Amsterdam, director-general, CARIFORUM, added: “With the improved compliance of the agro-export value chains, in accordance with regional and international food safety standards, opportunities to deepen regional trade and foster regional integration will be further enhanced.”
The project, valued at EUR 324,806, is being implemented by ministry of commerce, trade and MSMEs through the Vice Ministry of Foreign Trade (VICOMEX) and ADOEXPO as well as the ministry of economy, planning and development.
The CARIFORUM-EU EPA and CSME Standby Facility for Capacity Building, which is financing the project, is a EUR 8.75 million resource that offers opportunities to 15 Caribbean economies to grow trade, deepen integration and economic involvement, impact competitiveness, market access and exports by implementing targeted projects in thematic areas. The project is one of 24 Standby Facility initiatives currently being implemented across the region.