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Industrial Hemp: A New Investment Prospect in Belize


On November 4, 2017, the Amendment to Belize’s Misuse of Drugs Act effectively eliminated industrial hemp from the list of controlled substances, thus opening the door for hemp cultivation, and subsequent value-addition mainly for export. Since the new Amendment, BelizeINVEST, a unit of BELTRAIDE, has received several hemp investment interests seeking to develop hemp-based products such as oils, protein-rich powders, textiles, Cannabidiol (CBD), among others.

Continue reading “Industrial Hemp: A New Investment Prospect in Belize”

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE BELIZE-TAIWAN AGRICULTURE INVESTMENT MISSION October 20 – 26, 2019


The Government of Belize (GOB), through the Ministry with responsibility for Investment, Trade and Commerce, along with the Belize Trade and Investment Development Service (BELTRAIDE), hosted the Belize Agriculture Investment Mission in partnership with the Republic of China (ROC) Taiwan on October 20 – 26, 2019. Continue reading “HIGHLIGHTS OF THE BELIZE-TAIWAN AGRICULTURE INVESTMENT MISSION October 20 – 26, 2019”

EXPORTBelize , Beltraide, kick starts “EXPORTBelize Week”!


 
EXPORT Belize, a unit of Beltraide , kick starts ” EXPORTBelize Week” at the National Agriculture and Trade Show which was held on the 29th and 30th of April, 2017. Two of its clients were given the opportunity to showcase their products in an effort to increase local sales and to also build visibility and educate visitors on the services provided by EXPORTBelize.

 
This show saw hundreds of visitors from all over the country and hosted a variety of producers, businesses, and organizations who gathered to promote the services and products they offer. Games, live entertainment, raffle, give-aways, to name a few, were all activities in which these parties had in order to direct traffic to their booths.

EXPORTBelize also conducted secondary school visits to business students of Our Lady of Guadalupe High School in the city of Belmopan and Our Lady of Mount Carmel High School in Benque Viejo del Carmen. The objective of such visits were to build awareness of the services provided by the unit and to encourage the students that it is never too early to start thinking about their career paths and should they want to venture into becoming an entrepreneur, competing locally and gradually exporting, they are aware of some necessary steps that must taken.

EXPORTBelize, BELTRAIDE and the Nature Conservancy holds meeting to discuss development of Belize’s Seaweed Industry.


EXPORTBelize, Beltraide and The Nature Conservancy facilitated a working session with fisher groups from Hopkins, Placencia, Punta Gorda, Sarteneja, Dangriga and Belize City, along with a representative from the Belize Federation of Fishers, to discuss development of Belize’s Seaweed Industry. This session is just one activity under a Memorandum of Cooperation (MOC) signed between BELTRAIDE and The Nature Conservancy in November 2016. A key objective of the MOC is to encourage a sustainable seaweed industry in Belize that provides products for local and international markets and directly impact livelihoods of coastal communities while restoring ecosystem health.

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Each group was given the opportunity to report on the status of development relating to seaweed and to report on challenges faced in trying to advance their seaweed operations. The discussions were fruitful and the groups embraced a collaborative approach, offering advice to one another and applauding each other for efforts and accomplishments to dates. Both Agencies took the opportunity to outline their roles in the partnership and facilitated discussions on strategies to address challenges faced. The session concluded with discussions on the way forward relating to capacity building, marketing, market research and other efforts to advance development of the industry.

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Minister Panton delivers Keynote Address at Galen University Graduation


 

On Sunday, May 22nd, 2016, Galen University graduated ninety-nine students at its 13th Commencement Exercises held at the Muffles College Auditorium in Orange Walk Town.

Graduates received degreesin various fields including Anthropology, Environmental Science, Computer Science, Criminal Justice, Elementary Education, Accounting and Business Administration.

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Hon. Tracy Taegar- Panton, Minister of State in the Ministry of Economic Development, Petroleum, Investment, Trade & Commerce, delivered the keynote address, highlighting the emerging socio-economic needs and challenges in the public and private sectors and how  Belizeans can combine their skills, talents and experiences to shape a new future.  The minister stressed the importance of diversifying our economic base using technology, promoting innovation and entrepreneurship as well as maintaining open dialogue to foster co-ordination and objectivity on matters of national importance.

Galen University is a private Belizean university chartered and licensed by the Government of Belize. Its mission is to provide excellence in undergraduate, graduate and professional education to prepare students to achieve their dreams and goals. The university is committed to providing an exciting and stimulating a learning environment, innovative and supportive teaching, scholarships and active service to the community – with a unique focus on sustainable development throughout its courses, programmes and service

Continue reading “Minister Panton delivers Keynote Address at Galen University Graduation”

The Cabinet Subcommittee on Investment visits with BNE!


The Cabinet Subcommittee on Investments (CSCI) visited Belize Natural Energy (BNE) along with the Belize Trade and Investment Development Service (BELTRAIDE) and the Belize Bureau of Standards (BBS) in exploring energy investment opportunities on May 6th, 2016. In attendance included the Chair of the Subcommittee, Hon. Tracy Taegar Panton, Minister of State in the Ministry of Economic Development, Petroleum, Investment, Trade and Commerce along with Hon. Manuel Heredia, Minister of Tourism and Civil Aviation and Hon. Vanessa Retreage, Attorney General at the Attorney General’s Ministry. The BNE team provided the delegation with a very insightful tour of the facilities including the components on oil and gas.

 

The Cabinet Subcommittee on Investments (CSCI) is a ministerial committee that was established in early 2013 to review large scale investment projects and conduct assessments ensuring meaningful investments while maximizing benefits to the people and Government of Belize. BELTRAIDE serves as the secretariat. For further details on investment opportunities in Belize, feel free to contact BelizeINVEST, a unit of BELTRAIDE at investment@belizeinvest.org.bz or +501-822-3737 / 0175.

Six budding Belizean entrepreneurs displayed their products at this year’s National Agriculture and Trade Show !


As part of its mission to assist small business owners to become more competitive, Beltraide established a booth at the National Agriculture and Trade Show in Belmopan, which allowed several locally owned businesses to market and sell their products to a wide market of Belizean consumers.

Visitors to the booth had the opportunity to sample Fibber’s sauces, a variety of jams from Belizean Home Made Jellies, Tambranero sauces, mosquito repellent and beauty products from Jerusalem Beauty Company, beauty products from Cocoa & Company and Che’il Mayan chocolates.

 

Visitors also obtained first-hand information on the services offered by Beltraide as part of its role to attract and facilitate investment to Belize. The highlight of the activities at the booth was the raffling of  a gift basket of Belizean products and a basket of Jams courtesy of Belizean Home Made Jellies.

BELTRAIDE ORGANIZES FIRST TRADE CLINIC FOR BUSINESSPERSONS IN ORANGE WALK


Over 50 producers from Orange Walk Town and surrounding villages met at La Inmaculada Credit Union Conference room on Friday, 4th March to obtain crucial information that will assist them to improve their services and raise the bar to compete globally.

The meeting was in the form of a Trade Clinic, which was the first of its kind organized by EXPORTBelize, a unit of BELTRAIDE, with the aim to sensitize the private sector on regulations, requirements, export procedures and documentations   and opportunities that exist under trade agreements in order to do business in the local and international market.

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The Trade Clinic included presentations from the Belize Bureau of Standards (BBS), the Belize Agriculture Health Authority (BAHA), the Customs & Excise Department and the Directorate General of Foreign Trade. Topics included: Standards (labeling, CODEX, metrology, etc), Export Procedures, Trade Agreement Opportunities and Sanitary & Phyto-Sanitary Measures among many others.

EXPORTBelize provides customized needs based services in the areas of export development and promotion. The Unit’s role is to encourage competitiveness of local businesses and to promote their products and services regionally and internationally by:

  • Supporting exporters with development promotion that will facilitate maximizing market opportunities in unison with trade agreements;
  • Collaborating with exporters in the promotion of  their products and services locally, regionally and internationally;
  • Offering specialized business development services and mentoring;
  • Providing exporters with access to finance and research on product/services that can be capitalized.

A second Trade Clinic is planned for producers in the southern part of the country very soon.

Prime Minister’s New Year’s Message 2016


Prime Minister delivers New Year’s message highlighting  a year of great accomplishments!

Prime Minister’s New Year’s Message 2016

My Fellow Belizeans:

There were many things to be grateful for in 2015.

We were spared from hurricanes; there were no social upheavals; we steered our way through the complexities of the relationship with Guatemala; and politically we capped everything with the peaceful and historic general elections of November.

Economically it was also a good year. Disease and the long drought played havoc with shrimp and grains. And an earlier than expected decrease in the export price was unwelcome news for our sugar cane farmers. But tourism saw continuing record advances, cost of living fell markedly, and there was an overall spurt in the rate of employment.

Our public works program reached its high point, so that there was tremendous infrastructural development and huge knock-on effects in jobs, income and spending. Government and quasi Government salary increases, commercial bank liquidity, greater access to credit and lower interest rates, also helped to boost consumer confidence and well-being.

Looking ahead to 2016, I say at once that the landscape is changed and the dynamics will be different. But I also say immediately that there are still multiple reasons for optimism, and that we see our way clear to another successful year.

Among the challenges that we will confront, the reduction in PetroCaribe flows is perhaps the most pronounced. With the dizzying fall in oil prices, we expect to get much less from these Venezuela loan funds than we did in 2015. And already 2015’s intake was only half of 2014.

This, combined with the drying up of earnings from our own petroleum exports, will put a severe crimp in Government revenues. It is what, in the face of the coming step-up in SuperBond payments and the Compensation Award expected to be handed down towards the middle of the year, has caused us to raise the duty on

fuel imports. The CIF price of these is so low that we were able to judge the increase a bearable burden. And with this, which is the only tax measure we will take, Government will be able to meet debt obligations and pay for expansion in services, particularly regarding national security and the acquisition of assets such as the three BDF helicopters and the two latest model Coast Guard boats.

Our trademark infrastructure drive will also continue, though now there will be a mix of funding sources. There is enough that we have set aside from the PetroCaribe days of plenty, to complete the countrywide BIL sporting projects (such as the Belize City Center) and the tourism road network improvements that we began in the last quarter of 2015. So construction proceeds apace on the Lamanai Road, the Cristo Rey/San Antonio Road, and the North Ambergris Road to the new Efrain Guerrero international Airport. IFIs including CDB, IDB, OFID, and the Kuwaiti Fund, will in turn finance the rehabilitation of the Philip Goldson Highway from the Airport junction to Belize City; the new Macal River crossing; the Hummingbird Highway; and the Belmopan to Benque redo.

OPEC/OFID will also fund, and their Board has just approved, a completely new PGIA Link Road with a bridge over the Belize River and extending from behind Gentrac to around Mile 8 on the George Price Highway. As well, there is the recently announced UK Government Caribbean Grant initiative. Belize’s share of this new aid endowment is in the region of 135 million Belize dollars to be spent, we propose, principally on the Road to Caracol.

The point is that in 2016 there will continue to be public infrastructure work and jobs aplenty, with all the multiplier benefits to our people that this entails.

In terms of the larger economy and the private and productive sector, the outlook is just as promising.

 

In agriculture, the grain farmers have taken full advantage of Government’s tax and duty moratorium on all irrigation equipment to reinvest in the sector with a view to expanded, post-drought production.

The poultry industry has recovered from the avian flu, and shrimp harvesting is expected by mid year to rebound completely from disease to take full advantage of continuing high export prices.

In citrus, factory consolidation should increase efficiencies, and external demand and payment for our by-products remain firm.

 

Sugar is not currently fetching the optimum returns in the European market that we would like. Nevertheless, the huge Santander investment in a factory and cane fields in the Cayo District has now come to fruition. Grinding operations are set to start by February. And the initial amount of 350 thousand tonnes of cane to be milled, should go up in year 2 to as much as 800 thousand tonnes. Apart from the foreign exchange earnings and permanent employment that the coming of sugar to the West brings, Santander is also negotiating a power purchase agreement with BEL to supply cheap co-generation energy to the local grid.

Overall, then, and despite the volatility inherent in the commodities sector and the temporary hole left in banana production by the suspension of Meridian farms, our agriculture is again proving its resilience and viability.

But it is in tourism that our prospects continue to shine brightest. In September, October and November of 2015, overnight arrivals exceeded the 2014 numbers for the same three months by 19.2%, 22.1% and 33% respectively. With the new Southwest and Copa airline services from the US and South America to Belize already launched; and with the scheduled commencement of direct flights from Canada in 2016, we expect to maintain and better the record breaking, year-over-year increases in stayover tourism.

 

On the Cruise side, there was a 9.2% passenger jump this November, the last full month of 2015 for which we already have the statistics, over November of 2014. And on that front the headline news for 2016 is twofold: NCL’s Harvest Caye project becomes fully operational by April and brings with it two thousand jobs for Southern Belize; and the Supreme Court ruling on Belize City Port exclusivity-or lack thereof-clears the way for us to greenlight a new, Old Capital alongside docking facility.

This latter will undoubtedly mean a significant ramping up of cruise calls via the country’s main harbour, and completes an overall tourism picture that we can paint in colors of unambiguous optimism.

The new cruise port will be built by the private sector in some form of partnership with Government, and we expect to develop the Commerce Bight container port in Stann Creek using the same model. Indeed, so committed are we to public-private partnerships that we will transition our special purpose vehicle Belize Infrastructure Limited to be Government’s agent to facilitate them. BIL will therefore be designated GOB’s Public-Private Partnership Unit.

More generally, our Administration has declared the need for Government to improve service delivery to the private sector and the citizenry as a whole. Accordingly, we also intend to appoint an official Monitor in 2016 to work with the Civil Service to ensure quality control in Government’s interaction with the public. The Monitor will as well have responsibility to review the implementation pace and effectiveness of all Government’s manifesto commitments.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen, Fellow Belizeans:

It is no coincidence that the 2015 general elections were fixed for the year’s last month but one. The timing was deliberate and the idea was that the new Administration should use December to settle in, then greet 2016 with a burst of freshness, energy and enthusiasm. I believe, then, that the symbiosis of new mandate and New Year will be not just symbolic, but a real spur to action. I also believe that we are well positioned by the basic soundness of our economy and our stewardship to make good on the explicit and implicit promises of our refreshed compact with the people. And most of all I believe that our sense of history, duty and destiny will give wing to our efforts now at following extraordinary opportunity with extraordinary results.

 

For all these reasons I invite everyone to feel confident that this time we will make more meaningful than ever our salutation that rings through the ages: “Happy New Year”, and God bless Belize.

 

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