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 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.
The Caribbean Export Development Agency (Caribbean Export) opened the two-day sub-regional workshop on branding and the use of geographical indications in the development of management strategies for origin-linked products at the Knutsford Court Hotel in Kingstown, Jamaica on July 21st. With the aim of building the capacity of CARIFORUM producers to identify and develop geographical indications and origin linked products, it is hoped that attending businesses will prosper and enhance their competitiveness in the international arena, and as a result build economic growth and sustainability of the Caribbean region.
The Hon. Hylton, Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce for Jamaica highlighted in his address to the participants that “Within the Caribbean exist numerous opportunities for GI protection including black pineapple from Antigua, cascarilla from the Bahamas, cahune oil from Belize, nutmeg from Grenada and sarsaparilla from St. Kitts just to name a few. Geographical Indications offer us the opportunity to protect these brands and our consumers, even as we continue to guarantee quality and provenance.”
Mrs. Pamela Coke-Hamilton, Executive Director of the Caribbean Export Development Agency (Caribbean Export) in her welcome remarks expressed, “We recognise that the environment in which the region’s private sector operates is ever changing and key areas such as Intellectual Property Rights have emerged which require us to pay attention”.
Geographical Indications (GIs) is a form of Intellectual Property Rights given to goods that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities, reputation or characteristics that are essentially attributable to that place of origin. Research has shown that a product with a protected “Destination of Origin” may attract a premium price of as much as 40% higher than that of a similar product without a GI classification.
Mrs. Coke-Hamilton indicated that the power of GIs for the region has significant implications for ‘Brand Caribbean’ as we continue to seek new markets for our goods and to further penetrate existing markets. “When we speak about Brand Caribbean, we speak about the need to set the Caribbean apart from other regions, to distinguish our products on shelves flooded by products from Asia or elsewhere and to ensure that the world knows that high quality is not some elusive concept achievable only by first world producers”. She gave the example of the reputation of the Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee which is one of the most expensive and highly sought-after coffees in the world.
Echoing these sentiments Ambassador Paola Amadei, Head of Delegation for the European Union to Jamaica, Belize, The Bahamas, Turks and Caicos Islands and Cayman Islands expressed that “The European Union is convinced of the untapped potential that Geographical Indications have for the Caribbean’s economic development.” In addition she reiterated “Without access to geographical indications protection tailored to their circumstances and needs, few producers of origin-linked products can benefit from their rights.”
There are many challenges that Caribbean countries face when dealing with GIs and IPs as a whole, these include the lack of knowledge of what constitutes IP and the value this property represents to individual firms; the lack of knowledge of IP laws and insufficient awareness of the work of local intellectual property offices in protecting IP; government agencies which work on IP are understaffed and in many situations, persons at these agencies have multiple portfolios; and the high cost attached to registering IP is considered a deterrent by SMEs in the Region.
To overcome these challenges, Mrs. Coke-Hamilton suggests that firstly we need to make IP capacity building, of firms and the BSOs at the local level, a priority; secondly, the region needs a structured, specialised programme through which relevant firms can be trained in IP; thirdly, there is a need to work with financial institutions to recognise the value of IP, so that they make it possible for the private sector to leverage their IP as collateral when seeking financial assistance and lastly, there is a need to develop and share case studies within the region.
“I do not think that we need to be convinced of the value of GIs and OLPs for our products. What is needed is a commitment on our end to complete the work that has already started in developing GIs for various products such as our Jamaica jerk, cocoa, nutmeg and pineapples”, stressed Mrs. Coke-Hamilton.
The workshop was hosted by the Caribbean Export in collaboration with the Government of Jamaica (the Jamaican Intellectual property Office), the Office of Trade Negotiations of the CARICOM Secretariat, the World Intellectual Property Organisation and the REACH Programme of the Inter-American Development Bank in Kingstown, Jamaica from 21st – 22nd July.
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.
“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.
The negotiations on the Partial Scope Agreement (PSA), between the Government of Belize and the Government of the Republic of Guatemala, were launched on November 22, 2004. Both countries signed the agreement on 26th June, 2006. In 2009, Belize deposited its Instrument of Ratification to the CARICOM Secretariat and obtained CARICOM’s approval of the Agreement and completed its internal process of ratification that year. Guatemala completed its ratification in March of 2010. With the exchange of information notifying the completion of the internal process in each country, the PSA took effect on 4th April, 2010, thirty days after Guatemala completed its internal process of ratification.
This is Belize’s first negotiated bilateral trade agreement and one which takes into account the obligations to the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME). This agreement has been seen as an opportunity to enhance trade and commercial relations for both countries.
Currently, Belize has completed the three phases of tariff reductions as outlined in the Tariff Schedules of the Agreement. The main products benefiting from this agreement are: citrus, tilapia, cattle, yellow corn, black beans, red beans, poultry and pepper sauce. This market is expected to offer premium prices relative to world prices. The PSA covers 150 goods, including certain goods under the headings of: animal products; prepared foodstuffs; products of the chemical or allied industries; plastics and articles thereof: rubber and articles thereof; wood and article of wood, wood charcoal; paper and paperboard, articles of paper pulp, of paper or of paperboard; textiles and textiles articles; footwear, gaiter and the like; parts of such articles; glass and glassware; base metals and articles of base metal; and other items.