CARIBBEAN LEADERS HAVING TWO MEETINGS ON EPA

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Matters related to the signing of the CARIFORUM-EC Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) will be the focus of two Heads of Government meetings to be held in Barbados on Wednesday, September 10, at the Sherbourne Conference Centre.

The first of the meetings will be the Fourteenth Special Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), which will take place in the morning. Later in the afternoon, the Third Special Meeting of the Heads of State and Government of the Caribbean Forum of African Caribbean and Pacific States (CARIFORUM) will be held. CARIFORUM consists of the 14 independent states of CARICOM, the Dominican Republic and Cuba.

The EPA, which was initialed last December by CARIFORUM and the European Union, provides for a new trading arrangement between the two parties to replace the Cotonou Agreement that governed aid and trade relations between Europe and the ACP group of countries.

The leaders will be meeting against a background of continued concerns and reservations expressed by some of their counterparts and technocrats about the provisions of and benefits to the regional grouping in relation to the EPA, as well as procedures for signing the document.

The recent spate of hurricanes, that have caused widespread devastation and loss of life in Haiti, Jamaica, Cuba and The Bahamas, will also have the attention of the Heads of State and Government as they seek to fashion an appropriate, regional, relief response.

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