Georgetown, Guyana, 8 December 2011/CARICOM:CARIFORUM Officials met with their European Union counterparts in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic on December 8, to convene the First Meeting of the Special Committee on Customs Cooperation and Trade Facilitation under the CARIFORUM-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA).

This Special Committee Meeting was preceded by a CARIFORUM Preparatory Meeting on December 7.

The Special Committee on Customs Cooperation and Trade Facilitation is one of five institutions established to facilitate implementation of the EPA. Established pursuant to Article 36 of the Agreement, this Committee will meet at the level of Officials.

Up for consideration at the Special Committee Meeting were the following: (i) legal issues (namely, establishment of the Rules of Procedure of the Special Committee); (ii) institutional matters (namely, the identification of Permanent Observers and Ad Hoc Observers to the Special Committee); (iii) customs cooperation and trade facilitation matters; (iv) Rules of Origin; (v) mutual administrative assistance; and (vi) tariff classification issues.

The Adviser to the Secretary-General on the Implementation of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) and Head of the EPA Implementation Unit of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat, Mr Branford Isaacs, said : “It marks yet another milestone on the path of EPA implementation, coming as it does on the heels of the convening this past June of the first meeting of the Trade and Development Committee under the CARIFORUM-EU EPA.” Mr Isaacs, who also serves as the Unit’s Trade in Goods Specialist, underscored that “the convening of the Special Committee Meeting is timely; it affords the CARIFORUM and EU sides an opportunity to make headway on a range of pressing matters that fall within the remit of this important Special Committee.”

The fifteen signatory Caribbean Forum of African, Caribbean and Pacific (CARIFORUM) States to the EPA are the independent CARICOM Member States and the Dominican Republic.