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The Ministers of Foreign Affairs and representatives of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and their Secretariats met in Durban South Africa on 1st September 1998.

SADC was represented by Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, Mozambique, Mauritius, Seychelles, Zambia, Zimbabwe ans South Africa. CARICOM was represented by Suriname, St. Lucia, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, Grenada, and Barbados. The CARICOM Secretariat was represented by its Secretary-General and the SADC Secretariat, by senior officials.

The SADC Ministerial team was led by Honourable Alfred Nzo, Minister of Foreign Affairs of South Africa and current chairman of SADC Council of Ministers. The CARICOM Ministerial team was led by Honourable E. Snijders, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Suriname and current chairman of the Council of Ministers responsible for Foreign and Community Relations.

The main purpose of the meeting was to expose ways and means of formalising relations between the two regional groupings on the basis of earlier contacts between the current Chairman of SADC and the Heads of Government of the Caribbean Communities, and between their two Secretariats.

Following an exchange of views on regional developments in SADC and the CARICOM the following areas of cooperation between the two regions were identified:

  • strategic alliance between CARICOM and SADC to promote trade;
  • technical cooperation on rules of origin and common external tariff;
  • Post – Lome IV negotiations;
  • Exchange of technical expertise between the two Secretariats;
  • Involvement of the private sectors of CARICOM and SADC to explore trade and investment opportunities, including air transport and tourism;

It was agreed that the SADC and CARICOM Secretariats would meet at the earliest opportunity to map out a Plan of Action and Strategy for promoting trade, investment and economic cooperation between the two regions. An important element of the process would be the involvement of the private sector, commencing with a SADC/CARICOM private sector forum.

On the issue of Post-Lome IV negotiations it was agreed the CARICOM and the SADC Ministers would participate in the ACP Foreign Ministers meeting in Brussels on 26 September and that their regions’ position in the negotiations would be based on the principles laid down in the Libreville Declaration – a critical component of which is the preservation of ACP solidarity.

The ministers greed that the two Secretariats should work out practical modalities for deeper cooperation in terms of exchange of technical expertise, information dissemination and regular consultations.

The Ministers recognised the historic significance of the meeting. There was consensus that all possible steps must be taken to advance the process by further consultations. In this regard ir was agreed that the outcome of the meeting would be discussed at the relevant policy organs of both orgnisations.

It is finally agreed that Ministers from the two groupings should meet at the earliest opportunity, most probably at the current UN General Assembly, to continue their dialogue and international issues of mutual interest.

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