Belize and Trinidad and Tobago Seek to Strengthen Bilateral Trade Relations
Belize and Trinidad and Tobago are working to strengthen bilateral trade relations by increasing access to various markets between CARICOM sister nations. This week, a team from the Trinidad and Tobago Manufacturers’ Association (TTMA) is in Belize to discuss possible economic opportunities across sectors like agriculture, manufacturing, and tourism. This morning, the team held a business seminar to promote trade, economic cooperation, and cultural exchange among stakeholders. Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Francis Fonseca, spoke about its significance and the expected benefits for local enterprises.
Francis Fonseca, Minister of Foreign Affairs: “Our trade relations with the entire CARICOM region is small but growing. You know it’s an important market for us the CARICOM market. With Trinidad I think we export around $97 million dollars so it’s not insignificant but certainly we would want to see it grow and expand so we’re very very thrilled to have this delegation led by the Minister of Trade here in Belize. As she said they brought in about thirty four people, some very significant investors in the manufacturing sector, in the agricultural sector in Trinidad so I think there is great potential for us collaborating and great opportunities for economic investment in Belize that I’m very excited about and I know our team at the Ministry of Foreign Trade is very excited about. So we you know after this I will hold discussion with the minister and we will get into more details about specific areas particularly agriculture but also you know the whole area of the manufacturing sector. You all know we’ve talked about this for a long time in Belize that we have not been able to develop a manufacturing sector in Belize, canning of goods, canning of fruits. We talk about these things but there is a real opportunity with Trinidad’s help and support that we can achieve this objective. So we look forward to those discussions.”
Twenty-three Trinidadian businesses are participating in the seminar which comprises several presentations and networking sessions. Head of the mission, Trinidadian Minister of Trade and Industry, Senator Paula Gopee-Scoon, discussed the possible areas of mutual trade and how it ties in with CARICOM’s Single Market Economy.
Paula Gopee-Scoon, Minsiterr, Trade and Industry Trinidad and Tobago: “Belize is a strong trading partner within the region for us, they’re fourth in line and there are a number of products from Belize that we import in terms of your citrus products oranges, concentrates really and grapefruit, pineapple concentrates as well and also red beans and I believe there are a few other types of beans as well. We feel that there are other thing that we can import from Belize but Trinidad has on offer -as you know we have a vibrant manufacturing sector so we do feel that there are a number of items that we can export to Belize but generally it’s about increasing our trading relations and of course deepening our bilateral relations which is already strong. And so today we’re very happy to be here. It’s an opportunity for me to – well Prime Minister honored us with his presence we’re very grateful for that and I’m very happy to be here with Minister Fonseca and also I will meet with the Minister of Agriculture and the Minister who has responsibility for investments as well. We really want to look at the whole approach, we want to think a little bit about the connectivity. It will be a lot easier if we can fly from Trinidad, Jamaica, Belize than having to got to Miami wait and come down. So there are a lot of things that we can talk about put on the table, exchanges in education and looking at things along the value chain which we can do together and because you all have so much land here you produce so many products Trinidad and Tobago does not have that luxury we’re very small country so that it would really be a good thing if we look at what the synergies could be, where you can do the production and we can do the processing and canning but there are things that we can look at and I’m sure there are lots of ideas that Belize has that they can share with us and we can see who it can mutually benefit both sides.”
Prime Minister John Briceno addressed the gathering, underscoring the importance of promoting trade among CARICOM nations and identifying new markets for Belizean goods and services.