Belize Launches its First National Trade Policy Print E-mail
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Friday, 08 March 2019 00:00

Following Cabinet’s approval of Belize’s first National Trade Policy (NTP) in November 2018, the Directorate General for Foreign Trade (DGFT) in the Ministry of Investment, Trade and Commerce, Andy Sutherland, announced the official launch of the National Trade Policy. That launch was held at 9:00am on Thursday, February 28, 2019 at the Ramada Belize City Princess Hotel and Casino.

Presenting remarks to the wide array of senators, members of the diplomatic corp, and other invited guests were DGFT Sutherland, CEO Duane Belisle, Nikita Usher, Amelia Kelly, Terrence Simfukwe, and, of course, the Hon. Tracy Taegar Panton, Minister with the Responsibility for Investment, Trade, and Commerce. Sutherland was the first to speak and gave quite an insight on the necessary adjustments our economy requires. The Belizean economy, he said, has strong foundations but like any other country’s economy, we are not immune from setbacks such as a failed or inflated economy. He went on to present a video in which he and Minister Taegar Panton highlighted increased competitiveness through trade.

The DGFT sourced technical and financial assistance from the Commonwealth Secretariat, and collaborated with public, private, and civil society partners, to have developed the NTP. It is structured around four main pillars: institutional capacity strengthening; enhancement of supply and productive capabilities; increased market access and entry; and trade facilitation. Expounding on these thoughts was CEO in the Ministry of Economic Development, Petroleum, Investment, Trade, and Commerce, Duane Belisle. CEO Belisle also gave the understanding that while the NTP is not law, it is a framework and set of guidelines to be adapted by GOB to facilitate economic growth and sustainable development.

The development strategies such as the Horizon 2030 and the Growth and Sustainable Development Strategy are what the NTP is aligned by. Its vision is to develop a competitive economy for inclusive socio-economic development through trade and seeks to achieve various objectives including reducing the cost of doing business; improving trade performance; building and strengthening multilateral, regional and bilateral trade relations; enhancing market access and entry; and building a strong and effective institutional and legal framework for trade development, with competent human capital and an entrepreneurial mind set. According to Minister Taegar Panton, the NTP will be integrated with trade negotiations with both regional and international partners. Those will include Central American countries, our northern neighbour Mexico, and members of the European Union (EU) and the United Kingdom (UK), the last two which are traditionally Belizean markets. The NTP will also see agreements with both trading blocks and will seek support from a multisectoral trade team to open new trade markets as well as expanding existing ones. Minister Taegar Panton says that she is hopeful that the NTP will provide a blueprint for effective and efficient trade for at least the decade.

“Trade remains integral and requires competition and compliance with international guidelines.” Besides the current export and trade relations that Belize is currently involved in, Minister Taegar Panton also suggested that we need to target niche markets to successfully advance Belize’s interests. After her presentation, Minster Taegar Panton officially launched the National Trade Police 2019-2030.

Implementation of Belize’s first comprehensive National Trade Policy will significantly contribute to a competitive economy and to inclusive and sustainable socio-economic development.

Last Updated on Friday, 08 March 2019 13:25