Belize turns to T&T’s Manufacturers.

Belize turns to T&T’s Manufacturers.

Sun, 02/04/2024 - 07:51
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Belizean Politicians Urged to Think Big for Industrial Development and Economic Growth

By: Omar Silva,

Editor/Publisher National Perspective Belize (DIGITAL 2024)

Belize City: Sunday 4th February 2024

Belize, a Central American nation nestled between two industrialized Latin American neighbors, is facing a pivotal moment in its economic development. As Belize grapples with limited agricultural resources and lacks direct shipping routes for exports, it's time for Belizean politicians to broaden their horizons and focus on industrial development. The recent collaboration between Belize and Trinidad and Tobago sheds light on the potential for growth and job creation through strategic partnerships.

In 2020, a dispute over the Common External Tariff (CET) on extra-regional imported brown sugar strained relations between Belize and Trinidad and Tobago. However, this dispute has now given way to promising cooperation in the realm of manufacturing, trade and investment.

Trade and Industry Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon led a trade delegation to Belize, consisting of representatives from 23 Trinidadian manufacturing companies. These companies, spanning various sectors, are seeking to foster a wider mutually beneficial relationships with Belize.

Manufacturing stands out as a key area where Belize can benefit from Trinidad and Tobago's expertise. Belize's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Francis Fonseca, emphasizes the need for Belize to develop a manufacturing sector, particularly in the canning of goods and fruits. Trinidad and Tobago can play a pivotal role in helping Belize achieve this goal.

Trade between Trinidad and Tobago and Belize operates under the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas, allowing duty-free trade for qualifying products. Prime Minister of Belize, John Briceno, expresses optimism about strengthening the ties between both countries through collaboration in trade, investment, and technology exchange.

Agriculture also presents a promising avenue for cooperation. Belize's agriculture production is strategically vital to the Caricom region's 25% by 2025 initiative. Trinidad and Tobago can offer technical expertise in agriculture, while Belize can contribute to food processing and manufacturing. Belize has accepted an invitation to participate in Trinidad and Tobago's Agricultural Exposition, fostering further collaboration.

Improving connectivity, both for passengers and cargo transport, is another area where Belize and Trinidad and Tobago can cooperate. Belize's strategic location bridges the gap between the Caricom region and Central America, making it an ideal destination for trade promotion and transport development.

Gopee-Scoon highlights the benefits of direct flights between Caribbean nations, reducing the reliance on routes via Miami. Additionally, she suggests exploring opportunities for educational exchanges and cooperative production strategies.

During the mission, Gopee-Scoon also met with Belize's Export and Investment Promotion Agency (BELTRAIDE), emphasizing Trinidad and Tobago's interest in importing agricultural products, including coconut and soya bean products, fish, and meat.

Trinidad and Tobago's interest in Belize's coconut industry presents a significant opportunity. Belize's coconut industry primarily caters to the North American market but is on track to produce 90 million coconuts annually by 2026. This presents a potential supply source for coconut-based products, which are in demand in Trinidad and Tobago.

The Belize Chamber of Industry and Commerce and the Trinidad and Tobago Manufacturers' Association are exploring strategic partnerships to deepen the ties between the private sectors of both countries.

In conclusion, the recent collaboration between Belize and Trinidad and Tobago offers a glimpse into the potential for Belize's industrial development, job creation, and economic growth. By thinking big and widening their focus on strategic partnerships, Belizean politicians can pave the way for a brighter economic future. The lessons learned from Trinidad and Tobago's more advanced manufacturing industry provide a roadmap for Belize's own growth and development.