Belize’s exports to CARICOM has been declining Print E-mail
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Thursday, 03 May 2018 00:00

Belize’s relationship with the Caribbean Community CARICOM has been brought to a new focus; especially for this week. The Directorate General for Foreign Trade DGFT and the Belize Development and Investment Service met with potential exporters in a round table on Wednesday morning at the National Emergency Management Organization NEMO headquarters in Belmopan to discuss trade with a trading bloc that now involves 12 million persons. Among the topics covered with them were trade opportunities and market access, challenges faced in entering CARICOM, logistics of exporting and the way forward in building public and private partnerships.

In his opening remarks, Mr. Duane Belisle, Chief Executive Officer within the Ministry of Economic Development, Petroleum, Investment, Trade & Commerce reviewed the benefits of being part of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy. “In 2006 the 13 CARICOM countries including Belize established the CARICOM single market and economy, the CSME, agreeing that nationals of these countries could travel, work and do business within each member state and be granted the same access enjoyed in their country of birth.”

But there was an information gap said Belisle.

“However;  research conducted in Belize shows that lack of knowledge among our nationals about the benefits rights and procedures provided under the CARICOM single market has hindered the participation of Belizeans within it.”

To ensure that all stakeholders understand the available opportunities within the CSME, the Directorate General of Foreign Trade also opened on Wednesday morning CARICOM Week, which is celebrated in the first week of May to commemorate Belize’s signing of the Treaty of Chaguaramas on May 1, 1974. Wednesday also marked the start of National Competitiveness Month, which features several activities and events that highlight competitiveness at the firm, labor and government levels.

Andy Sutherland, the Director of the DGFT said, “We can’t leave out CARICOM.”

Also joining in the talk, was John Rivero, Trade Economist from the Market Intelligence Unit. He said that soy bean oil is now being produced in Belize and can be pushed in the Region. Even though CARICOM is Belize’s third largest export market, those exports have been declining since 2014. Figures released by the Directorate shows that in 2014, exports were as high as $147, 088,84.00, and that number has been steadily declining from year to year, to $76, 583,036.00 in 2017. As from 2017, our top export to CARICOM remained as petroleum oils (30%), followed by orange juice (40%) with red kidney beans following behind (10%). By bringing industry leaders to Belmopan today, the Directorate General for Foreign Trade may hopefully convince them that trading with our brothers and sisters in the Caribbean makes perfect sense.