Prime Minister Perry G. Christie is heading a delegation from The Bahamas, visiting St. Lucia today in preparation for a special CARICOM meeting called to review the region’s economic situation.

The special session was announced at the 23rd Regular Meeting of the Conference of CARICOM Heads of Government in Georgetown, Guyana last month.

The July forum focused heavily on the economic situation of the Community and its impact upon the lives of its people. Heads of Government declared their awareness of the depth of the problem, described as having arisen in large measure from factors outside their control. These factors include the reduced access to the European Union Banana Market; the economic recession in the USA and the negative impact of the events of September 11, 2001, in particular on the tourism sector; the adverse effect of the OECD Harmful Taxation Initiative on the investment climate in Member States; and the rapid decline in overseas development assistance.

Expressing their determination to address the challenges posed to their countries with *”vigour and creativity”*, the Heads of Government agreed in July to appoint a Technical Team, and to meet in St. Lucia, in special session, on August 16 to further discuss the state of the regional economy. The recommendations of the Technical Team will be considered in the development of a programme to revive the regional economy and to build a foundation for future development. To facilitate the work at the special session, the technical committee was directed to develop proposals for a Regional Stabilisation Programme including a Stabilisation Fund.

Secretary-General Mr. Edwin W. Carrington has described the Caribbean Community as the longest surviving functioning integration grouping among developing countries in the world, as it moves towards its 30th Anniversary in 2003.