EU grants available for food exporters

Published: Sunday | October 30, 2011 Comments 0

Caribbean Export Development Agency is offering European Union-funded aid of up to $3.6 million per applicant for food exporters who need help improving food-safety standards.

The money is sourced from the 10th European Development Fund (EDF) under which Caribbean Export, a regional trade and investment promotion agency, is responsible for executing a Regional Private Sector Development Programme (RPSDP).

Sonia Bowen, Caribbean Export programmer in Christchurch, Barbados, says companies will have to spend first in order to qualify for the EU's free cash, which is intended to defray expenses attached to overhauling production systems and supply networks.

"It is not a loan. It is reimbursable grants. They will have to spend first before they can get the money," Bowen said on Friday.

Businesses are being offered grant of 5,000 to 30,000. Caribbean Export is collaborating with Jampro and Jamaica Exporters' Association on the programme.

Bowen said the amount is calculated as 70 per cent of total spend.

To qualify for the maximum euro30,000 grant, the business would have had to spend 42,000 to 43,000 of its own money. The grant is treated as a reimbursement.

Caribbean Export advised exporters of the programme in Kingston at the October 26-27 launch of the 500,000 Special Assistance Programme for food exporters, funded by the European Union. Businesses can access 5,000 under the special assistance programme; applications for more funds up to the cap would be made under the Direct Assistance Grant Scheme.

new US law

The key objective is to equip affected producers with the right tools to respond to new legislative requirements of the US Food Safety and Modernization Act, which take effect January 1, 2012.

Jamaica estimates that of the 200 food exporting companies the law will affect, 80 per cent or 160 of them are below the required standard, prompting calls back in July by the exporters association for the Government to bail out its members.

Bowen said each application would have to be reviewed and approved, and that the requirements were outlined at www.carib-export.com.

The company must be legally registered, and must "also be exporting or demonstrate their potential to export goods and services and be operational for at least two years supported by the last two years' financial statements/accounts. They must finance and sustain their projects fully at the beginning," it said on the website.

Companies which will not be eligible include start-ups, firms, entities or individuals not financially operational for two years; educational institutions such as universities, schools, vocational centres and non-governmental organisations.

"No direct assistance may exceed 70 per cent (30,000) of the total project cost. The project must be financed from the applicant's or their partners' own resources, or from other funding sources, including the donor community," as stated on the website.

Caribbean Export is an agency serving the members of Cariforum.

austanny@yahoo.com

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