Belize Finalizing Trade Agreement with El Salvador for Fruit and Vegetable Exports
Belize is finalizing its trade agreement with El Salvador to begin exporting fruits and vegetables to the Central American country. Recently, the Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security, and Enterprise announced that El Salvador approved the importation of carrots, citrus, onion, and pineapples into their country. Minister of Agriculture Jose Abelardo Mai says the initiative came after he and three local farmers traveled to El Salvador to begin negotiations. Mai explained that his ministry is working hard to finalize the trade deal.
Hon. Jose Abelardo Mai, Minister of Agriculture, Food Security and Enterprise: “When we went to Salvador we went on a fact-finding mission. We went to see what are the products on the market. How are they presented? What is the quality? What are the prices? What is the packaging? And based on that, and we drove so that we could know exactly the route that the product would take for it to reach El Salvador. We look at all the hiccups on the road. We look at the road conditions. We look at everything from Belize all the way to El Salvador. That was the reason why we drove. We went to the market and we look at different markets, different products, the presentation, the quality, the appearance, the weight, how is it sold in pounds. It’s sold in pounds, it’s sold by units and based on that we came up with four products that we believe we have competitive edge. One of them is Citrus. The second is pineapple, the third is onions, and the fourth one is carrots. These four we believe that we had, when you look at our product, our prices, and theirs you say listen, I think we can do something here. We requested to Salvador, we had interest in trading with them and they said well, we have to do a Pest Risk Assessment. So they came to Belize, they sent their people, they did their study and reported back to us saying that they were satisfied that there’s not a plant health risk. So that’s the first hurdle. The second hurdle now we have to do is to improve our quality with the farmers. We cannot sell them anything. And three, we have to now look if we can sustain that market with the amount. And four, the competitiveness in price. Can we maintain the prices where we can sell to them? So we may have passed hurdles, but we have other challenges. And so now we have to work on those aspects.”