The third edition of Invest Belize was launched today at the Best Western Biltmore Plaza. This edition focuses on agribusiness, which is forecasted to become one of the significant pillars of the economy. The magazine was released by the Ministry of Trade and Investment. Isani Cayetano was there and has this report.

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

Belize is an ideal tourism destination, it’s a small country within Central America and the Caribbean that is bursting at the seams with natural beauty.  Its people, a smorgasbord of races and ethnicities, are among its many attractions.  The Jewel, however, is also a land of many economic opportunities, open to business development and investment.  As such, it is being promoted globally as a place with endless commercial possibilities.  That marketing campaign is being driven in part through this publication, Invest Belize.

Mike Singh, C.E.O., Ministry of Trade & Investment Promotion

“We started this project sometime last year, we felt that we needed to have something to showcase the work that BELTRAIDE and the government is doing, something that is positive, something that is high quality.  So we started with the first edition and then we ended up with the second one.”

Now in its third edition, the focus of Invest Belize is agribusiness.  It is forecasted that in years to come our economy will be supported significantly and driven extensively by corn, cacao, sugar and citrus.

Mike Singh

“The productive sector is getting together and working with us on the possibility on doing some port improvements to support the kind of agriculture work you’ll read about in this magazine.  And where are we seeing agriculture growth?  We’re seeing growth in sugar, obviously with the ASR investment into BSI, with the Santander Sugar’s large investment.  We’re going to see sugar propel to probably doubling or tripling its production over the next two, three years.  We’re seeing grain production, again the magazine highlights what’s happening with grain.  We have year over year increases in grain, literally fifty percent a year.  That kind of production is getting to point that we need to start having bulk exports, so the government needs to develop the infrastructure to allow that kind of export.”

While there is a strong emphasis on driving the economy through foreign direct investment local goods being sent abroad, there is also a firm accent on sustainability, particularly where it concerns the environment.

Janelle Chanona, Vice President, Oceana in Belize

“Certainly, you know, you can’t spell economy without ecosystems and for any economy to survive it has to depend on healthy, sustainably managed ecosystems.  So that’s, you know, the environment figures into everything, into investment, into tourism, into just quality of life and certainly that’s what Oceana promotes, which is the sustainable management of our natural resources.  And, you know, we encourage investment, we encourage development, once it’s done sustainably then, you know, it’s a win-win for everybody.  Everything has to be long term.”

To attract foreign direct investment nonetheless, BELTRAIDE is using Invest Belize as its primary medium, an annual magazine which will find its way to many desks and coffee tables across the wider business community.

Tanya McNab, McNab Publishing

“A magazine is no good if people don’t get it in their hands as well.  I think that’s what lends to such a great partnership between BELTRAIDE and McNab because we have our own local distribution through our own magazines and our own publications that allow this magazine to be ready for hotel rooms, to be ready at the airports through all the other partner agencies that BELTRAIDE has and it’s really important because, you know, people come here on vacation but they’re businesspeople, you know.  It’s not just because you came here you’re coming to invest, you come on leisure travel and so it’s really important to have it in country and that’s where our strength comes.”

The magazine however, is not only about selling Belize as an investment haven.  It is also a resource for familiarizing investors with the legal landscape of the country where it concerns business.

Liesje Barrow-Chung, Attorney-At-Law

“Invest Belize, I believe, needs assistance because there are people who come and don’t necessarily understand how the law fraternity works and that is what is required.  So for that exposure alone we can offer assistance in terms of development and, I guess, complying and making sure people follow the rules.  For Belize, of course, I applaud the work done because we have gotten a lot of exposure because of this magazine and it is something that as a young country helps us to develop even more.”

Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.