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July 2011

BELTRAIDE HOLDS WORKSHOP FOR BUSINESS COMMUNITY


July 19, 2011

BELTRAIDE held a workshop today to strengthen the institutional architecture for investment attraction, Export Promotion and small and medium size enterprises development in Belize. The workshop is one of BELTRAIDE’s first steps in developing an investment promotion strategy for Belize. Executive Chairman for BELTRAIDE, Michael Singh says the IDB has funded a project in the sum of three hundred thousand US dollars that will be used by the organization of capacity building and institutional strengthening for the development of a more dynamic trade and investment promotion unit for the country.

Michael Singh – Executive Chairman, BELTRAIDE
“We are going to reach out to the private sector. We have a lot of representation from educators, from the private sector, from other government ministries, from banks so that we can get feedback from our private sector, our industry partners, our government department partners to tell us what they want to see us do. We have restructured the organization to create these specialists in areas such as tourism and leisure, areas such as the business process outsourcing, call centers. We are going to be pushing in areas for light manufacturing agriculture, agribusiness and also in alternate energy and type of value added to all of those industries. It is a wide agenda but we are trying to segment it so we have people specializing and dividing the institution into areas that we can direct investment, really give the kind of care to the investors coming in, the right information. Also proactively going out, finding the right investor, putting them into the right partnerships if possible and very importantly partnering with the private sector. Today in the position that Belize is in, we are in a very key position in Central America and the Caribbean to provide the kind of investment climate, and the potential for investment. We are English speaking; we are close to the United States, very good air links, good sea linkages, lots of natural resources, so we feel the time is right. Capital is looking for places to go. The traditional capital markets are not as stellar as they used to be so we feel that if we can make ourselves a good case, if we can show the right potential for growth; there are areas we have competitive advantages in for instance sugar prices are up. This is a good time to invest in sugar. We cannot even supply, our local market because our neighbouring markets prices are so good. We need to start working on how do we develop more production in that area how do we improve our tourism product. Those are the areas that we are going to be working in and trying to bring foreign investment as well as local investment into developing those areas.”

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Treaty Energy Reports Status of Aeromagnetic Survey of Belize Concession


Murphy Moose Aircraft Acquired and Equipped to Perform Low Level Aeromagnetic Survey of the 200,000 Acre On-Land Portion of the Princess Petroleum Concession
NEW ORLEANS, July 19, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — Treaty Energy Corporation (OTCQB: TECO), a growth-oriented energy company in the oil and gas industry, today reported it has completed the purchase of the Murphy Moose Aircraft that will be sent to Belize to accelerate exploration of the 200,000 acre on-land portion of the 2 million acre Princess Petroleum Concession.
Andrew V. Reid, Chairman and CEO of Treaty Energy Corporation, stated, “In addition to the Murphy Moose purchase, the drilling equipment is now in transit to Belize by sea out of the port of Mobile, Alabama, and is on schedule to arrive in Belize about the 24/25 of July. Additional equipment will be sent to Belize on the next available ship from Mobile. This added equipment will provide Treaty Belize Energy Ltd, our operating unit in Belize, with a smaller work over rig to more quickly complete the wells, while allowing the much larger drilling rig to move on to the next well site, and thus advance the completion of the eight currently approved drill sites.”
Mr. Reid added, “Now that the eight well sites have been approved by the Belizean government and we own the necessary drilling equipment that is required to continue expansion of the Belize project, it is necessary and appropriate for us to locate additional well sites for development. The Murphy Moose will add low level aeromagnetic survey capabilities to our set of tools to identify additional high probability drilling locations, and will thus expedite our efforts and complement all other location methods previously used by the Treaty team.”
Mr. Reid added further, “We are expecting to locate many more well sites on the 200,000 on-land portion of the Princess concession prior to any consideration being given to exploring the 1,800,000 acre off-shore portion of the Princess concession. Our stakeholders should anticipate regular updates on our progress in Belize as things are moving rapidly on this project.”
About Treaty Energy Corporation
Treaty is engaged in the acquisition, development and production of oil and natural gas. Treaty acquires and develops oil and gas leases which have “proven but undeveloped reserves” at the time of acquisition. These properties are not strategic to large exploration-oriented oil and gas companies. This strategy allows Treaty to develop and produce oil and natural gas with tremendously decreased risk, cost and time involved in traditional exploration. For more information go to: http://www.treatyenergy.com
Forward-Looking Statements:
Statements herein express management’s beliefs and expectations regarding future performance and are forward-looking and involve risks and uncertainties, including, but not limited to, raising working capital and securing other financing; responding to competition and rapidly changing technology; and other risks. These risks are detailed in the Company’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including Forms 10-KSB, 10-QSB and 8-K. Actual results may differ materially from such forward-looking statements.
Contact:
Osprey Partners
Tel: 732-292-0982
Fax: 732-528-9065
investors@treatyenergy.com
SOURCE Treaty Energy Corporation
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http://www.treatyenergy.com

Wegmans in search of new shrimp supplier in Belize


UNITED STATES
Monday, July 18, 2011, 02:40 (GMT + 9)

US retailer Wegmans has been looking for a new farm as shrimp supplier since Belize Aquaculture’s (BAL) closure.

Wegmans Senior Vice President of Consumer Affairs Mary Ellen Burris said the plant closed after Sir Barry Bowen, BAL’s owner, was killed last year in a plane crash and it was decided that BAL would be closed.

Wegmans is now seeking an equally sustainable source for its shrimp.

“It was October of 2007 when we introduced new purchasing standards for farmed shrimp, raising the bar to meet tough health and environmental standards,” Burris recalled. “BAL was our supplier-partner, committed to farming shrimp to eliminate the use of antibiotics and other chemicals, avoid damaging sensitive habitats, treat waste water and reduce the use of wild fish to feed shrimp.”

The vice president added that aggressive performance targets and an auditing and reporting system were installed to monitor progress.

“Our customers loved the taste and appreciated the methods of production that offered ecological benefits,” she stated. “We regret this setback but we recognised the personal passion that the owner brought to our pioneering effort. While we mourned his sudden death, we feared the changes that have come about might happen.”

Casting nets to catch shrimp for testing at Belize Aquaculture farm. (Photo: Wegmans)

Burris noted that Wegmans is considering a farming company in Indonesia that is very similar to Belize as well as one in Florida that meets about 90 per cent of the standards set at BAL.

She also mentioned two organic options certified by NaturLand Verband in Ecuador and Honduras, plus another farm in Belize, but the latter rears a different species that does not have the “rosy glow” the company prefers.

Wegmans will gradually phase out the frozen Wegmans Shrimp from Belize.

Relatedly, the chain has partnered with the Global Aquaculture Alliance (GAA) to assist with Wegmans’s aquaculture sustainability programme. Specifically, efforts will aim to develop guidelines for the programme that will require that suppliers source from environmentally responsible sources.

The areas of the supply chain to be covered are the processing facility, farm and hatchery.

Wegmans operates 77 stores in the northeastern US and will open its first store in Massachusetts in 2011. It employs over 41,000 people and had 2010 annual sales of USD 5.6 billion.

Related article:

– Wegmans to keep seafood prices low in 2011

By Natalia Real
editorial@fis.com
http://www.fis.com

Belize promotes investments in Dubai


Friday,15.07.2011, 03:20pm (GMT-6)

The Annual Investment Meeting 2011 held in Dubai in May 2011.

Prospective investors and the decision makers from existing and emerging markets were invited to invest in Belize at the Annual Investment Meeting 2011 held in Dubai last week.

Minister of Economic Development Commerce and Consumer Protection, Hon. Erwin Contreras, led the Belize delegation and presented an overview of investment policies and opportunities to Belize, garnering great interest from major players who looked at Belize as a prime location for investment. He also highlighted the multiple opportunities for investment in Belize, emphasizing Belize’s move to develop a long-term sustainable plan for economic development.

He said “Our government, in the last three years has taken great strides in creating an attractive investment climate. Through prudent fiscal management, our country rating has been boosted to ‘’A’’ minus, and despite the global crisis, we have shown consistent economic growth.”

Minister Contreras invited his audience to look at Belize “as a place to invest in a bright future and to join us in creating what will be the ideal sustainable model for a functional balance between high returns and responsible development.”

The Crown Prince of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, hosted the meeting, which featured key government ministers from countries in the Middle East, Far East, Africa and Europe, and major investors from the region and abroad.

The Dubai-based investment group, Equity Capital Group, has expressed strong interest in investing in Belize, and Mr. Adam Doost of the Group joined the United Arab Emirates’ Ministry of Foreign Trade in hosting the Belize delegation in Dubai.

It was the first time an event like AIM 2011 had been held in the Middle East. This visionary new approach has a long term objective to catalyze the process of global economic recovery by building investors’ confidence; and to ensure a more dynamic flow of funds between potential investors, and prospective investment opportunities and destinations.

Belize was further highlighted at the Dubai’s Expo Center at the AIM Exposition, where Equity Capital Group presented Belize as an emerging destination for investment. Hundreds of potential investors were able to view videos and images of Belize and to discuss the opportunities and benefits of investing in Belize with Minister Contreras, BELTRAIDE executive chairman Michael Singh and businessman Erik Tobar of Tobar Construction who had accompanied the minister.

The group also met with key executives of various large investment groups and sovereign development funds, including, the IFC, and the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development, all of whom expressed interest in investment projects in Belize and have commenced plans to visit Belize in the near future.

Belize: The Next Big Little Call-Center Destination?



Share iStock 000010588779XSmall 300x300 Belize: The Next Big Little Call Center Destination?With English already mastered, how far can this curiously attractive nation go on the Latin America call center map?

(Part one of two part series) By Jeff Pappas

How many times have you traveled to a tropical paradise and said to yourself, “I am going to move here and open a bar”? Now, tell me how many times you traveled to a tropical paradise and said to yourself, “I am going to move here and open a call center.”Well, Transparent BPO chief executive officer Scott Newman did. While on a cruise that docked in Belize, he noticed that all of the individuals he met (both on the coast and in town) spoke English better than many of his agents in the U.S. Newman realized that Belize could be on the cusp of emerging as the next country to handle the needs of his U.S.-based customers.The business potential he saw in Belize — that little spot on the map just to the right of Guatemala and just below Mexico — was high, possibly higher than either of the bordering (and much larger) Central America countries. But why? Well, first you must keep in mind what U.S. third-party outsourcers require: high-quality, English-speaking labor. Not surprisingly, they require this in large quantities and, more important, with a low price tag.While the U.S. can no longer capitalize on low-cost labor expansion for growth, beyond our borders lies a world full of nations that can. Not only can — but are.  

Can Belize Do an El Salvador?

Take the case of El Salvador. For years the Central American nation has been attracting offshore companies such as Sykes and Stream.When the number of bilingual workers was at a minimum in El Salvador, the country reached out to Nicaragua for labor that could speak English fluently and serve U.S. customers. When the Nicaraguans realized that their quality labor was being siphoned by their neighbor, the government focused on developing a call center industry to cease the out-migration. Once Nicaragua started keeping their people, by bringing in companies like Sitel, they too started running out of quality bilingual labor. So Nicaragua reached out to Guatemala, which also had a fair-size labor force that spoke quality English.

Well, Guatemala saw opportunity and lured the likes of 24-7 and NCO to add to the already burgeoning local call industry created by GuateCall, BCC, and Transactel. Honduras took note of the potential “domino theory” and began recruiting heavily in the call center market to somehow cure their unemployment ails.
With all these Central American countries having been so successful in attracting outsourcers to increase the employment potential for their citizens, how can Belize hope to be the next in line and even surpass these other countries? Can a country the size of Belize supply and sustain bilingual workers over an extended period of time?

The English Advantage
Belize is one of the few countries in the world where English is the official language. And while Spanish also is widely spoken, all official government documents, deeds, and papers are in English. Belize can boast of being the only English-speaking country in the region where more than 50% of the population speaks a second language.
Multinational companies should focus specifically on the suitable talent supply for the job categories they need, rather than rely on the size of a country’s overall population. With regards to Belize, companies should size the labor supply based on the numbers of “English First” workers. Generally, the English-speaking portion of the Nicaraguan labor force will pale in comparison to the English-speaking portion of the Belize labor force. As a result, the availability of such bilingual labor could offer Belize the chance to play a role in the emerging global outsourcing market.

Outsourcing’s Revolving-Exit Door Problem
So, Belize would have an edge when it comes to the English capabilities of its workers. What about another major issue that outsourcing companies face all the time: loyal workers?
A majority of call centers are plagued with high attrition. Anyone who manages a call center knows that the attrition rate in the industry is a huge problem and always has been. According to some research data, the rate in the United States is 50%, nearly 35% in the U.K., and a whopping 80% in India. In Latin America, by contrast, attrition ranges from 10% to 25% for outsourced call centers, and about 5% for captive and shared service centers.

Staff turnover is more a characteristic of the type of business than of the geography or culture. In the U.S., call-center work is not highly paid (less true in Latin America) and attracts a mixed group of people: students, part-time workers, and those with few or no qualifications.

This is certainly not the case in Belize, where call-center staff may be well-qualified in their particular field but cannot get a better job in the local area. (In fact, the director of account maintenance at Transparent BPO in Belize is a university graduate with a degree in biology.) This career limitation tends to counter attrition problems. Furthermore, workers are attracted by the uniqueness of some of these new jobs, as well as the daytime working hours (given the time zone proximity to the States).
For instance, one call-center company in Belize has so little attrition (under 5% annually) that at the beginning of each year, they take the 4 or 5 lowest-performing agents and terminate their employment. This keeps the other agents honest. Unbelievable as that may seem, the company will hire better agents within 30 days and have them working on the floor within 30 days after that.

Belizeans Need IT Skills
Countries seeking to play a role in the emerging global labor market have been concentrating on improving the quality of their talent, not just the quantity of educated workers. Malcolm Sobers, BPO Industry Specialist with Beltraide (Belize Investment Promotion), says his country could unlock a potentially large labor supply by improving the skills of college graduates, particularly their computer skills.
“Since our primary and secondary education system offers all courses in English, our focus is less on language skills, more on computer skills. Offering Belizeans the opportunity to increase their technology knowledge would not only make Belize comparable to other Central American countries, but even give Belize the chance to surpass their BPO/ITO industry growth.”
Job candidates from Belize are well-educated but often lack a grounding in practical skills. One sobering statistic that makes a great case for business in Belize is that on average 5,000 students graduate annually from the Belize educational system, but only 20% of them have a remote chance of attaining a job. For every call center job opening in Belize, on average 24 applicants have an associates degree or higher.

Sobers said that many Belizeans who do have technological knowledge have attained it through personal training. With the increase of certified training centers, such as the Belize National ICT Center in Belmopan, the education level of the labor force will be enhanced, he said.
Other Central American countries have shown that to increase employment, enter the world of low-cost outsourcing. Belize has a lot more work to do to succeed in the that world. Progress is being made in that the government is starting to focus more on jobs.

I predict that the next 18 months will determine if Belize can provide one of the better offshoring and nearshoring platforms. In the end, the key will be if Belize can capitalize on the “Central America trifecta”: the necessary language, the abundance of talent, and the right cost.
For additional insight on my recent economic-analysis trip to Belize, feel free to contact me at jeffp@arledgepartners.com.

Jeff Pappas is the Executive Vice President of Arledge Partners Real Estate Group, in Dallas. Arledge Partners focuses on international site selection, labor analytic studies, incentive negotiations, and real estate identification and acquisition for the contact services/BPO industry.

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