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A Special Meeting of the Conference Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community is being organised to take place in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic on Friday, 16 April.

This Sixth Special Meeting is being convened to deal with urgent matters of Community interest such as the latest World Trade Organisation (WTO) ruling on the European Union’s (EU) Banana Regime. The WTO on Tuesday authorised the United States to impose $191.4 million in 100 percent tariffs on a variety of European goods in retaliation for the loss suffered by the United States as a result of the failure of the EU’s restructured banana regime to comply with the rules of the WTO.

Under the Lome Convention with the European Union, the Caribbean and other members of African Caribbean Pacific (ACP) Group of countries have a trade and aid agreement which, among other things, allows for preferential access to the European market for their main exports including bananas. The United States backed by four Latin American countries, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico, launched a successful challenge to the Banana Regime in the WTO which prompted a change in the regime from the EU. However, there was a further successful challenge to the amended regime which has resulted in the latest ruling from the WTO. The leaders will discuss a regional response to the latest developments.

Also on the agenda is the political situation in Guyana following the stalemate in the dialogue between the two major political parties, the ruling People’s Progressive Party/Civic and the People’s National Congress. The two parties had been meeting with the CARICOM Facilitator Mr Maurice King who was appointed under the terms of the St Lucia Statement signed last July by the two parties and the then CARICOM Chairman Dr the Hon Kenny Anthony, Prime Minister of St Lucia.

The leaders will also take the opportunity to look at final preparations for the Second Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Association of Caribbean States which convenes in Santo Domingo on the evening of Friday April 16 and ends the next day. Discussions will also take place with respect to preparations for the EU/Latin American and Caribbean Summit scheduled for Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on June 28-29, 1999.

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