August 3, 2023, BRIDGETOWN, Barbados – Micro Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (MSMEs) of Antigua and Barbuda will soon benefit from capacity building interventions that will enable private sector entities to access markets in the European Union (EU). The project entitled “Strengthening Private Sector Capacity to Utilise the CARIFORUM European Union Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) to Increase Competitiveness and Maximise Opportunities for Global Export” is the second project being implemented in Antigua and Barbuda through the EPA and CSME Standby Facility for Capacity Building. The project will also focus on interventions aimed at greater market penetration within the CSME by building sustainable export capacity of MSMEs. According to the Honourable E.P. Chet Greene, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Agriculture, Trade and Barbuda Affairs, Antigua and Barbuda “…the project signifies a new era in our collaboration with the private sector towards greater economic growth, competitiveness, innovation and overall development and will assist local MSMEs to overcome existing export and market access barriers.” He added that the Government must focus on empowering businesses to tap into their full potential. The new project is being managed by the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB).
Project Manager, EPA & CSME Standby Facility, Mr. Cyril Gill, stated that the Bank looks forward to continued partnership with the Government of Antigua and Barbuda as they implement this initiative for the advancement of the country’s MSMEs. Speaking at the event, he indicated that the project is unique and timely in that it emphasizes the establishment of a digitally enabled framework where businesses can establish an online presence for the promotion and sale of their products. He further highlighted that it is critical, in the post- pandemic period that MSMEs adapt to the global digital trends in order to remain relevant and competitive.
EU Project Manager, Mr. Sheldon Jackman, indicated that the project will “…contribute significantly to building institutional, social and economic resilience in Antigua and Barbuda, through the growth of MSMEs…”. He further noted that it is important to explore opportunities provided under the EPA and that creating the necessary capacity building framework that is aimed at providing assistance to small business is vital to a sustainable private sector.
The two-year project is being implemented by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Agriculture, Trade and Barbuda Affairs in collaboration with the Antigua and Barbuda Investment Authority (ABIA). The two-year initiative provides EUR189,307 in Technical Assistance to Government of Antigua and Barbuda from the EPA & CSME Standby Facility and the Caribbean Technological Consultancy Services Network (CTCS).
The Standby Facility is a €8.75 million resource managed by CDB which 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.