On Monday, April 24 the third trade policy review for Belize took place in Geneva, Switzerland hosted and led by the World Trade Organization (WTO). This policy review looked at the global trade performance of Belize. Trade figures alone with the United States totaled at three hundred and twenty three million dollars for 2016. Dylan Vernon is Belize’s Resident Ambassador in Brussels to the World Trade Organization; he was present at the review and spoke of the overall presentation on Belize.
“We just completed our third trade policy with the EU here in Geneva and I must say that it was a very successful experience for both myself and for Belize. We’ve had quite a few messages of congratulations from member states, 16 member states _________ and they were mostly congratulating Belize in the progress made over the past review period. Clearly there were some areas where we were asked questions in terms of needs for improvements, we were given advice in terms of how to proceed and offers of technical cooperation. Overall the experience has been an excellent one for Belize in terms of allowing us to take stock of our trade policy over the past period and also plan for the next period. We feel that we have done well in terms of our limitations as a smaller economy in terms of having now a national trade policy framework underway and very good plans for having us improve how we abide by our WTO obligations; so we feel confident going forward and have benefited greatly from this experience.”
The policy review had a presentation made by the US Deputy Chief of Mission, Christopher Wilson who noted that though Belize is one of the western hemisphere’s smaller markets, it does have an important role in the region as an open and growing economy as well as through its membership with the World Trade Organization, CARICOM Single Market and Economy and other regional political organizations. Wilson’s statement noted, in part, quote, “It is also an important partner to the United States. Our countries continue to maintain close and cooperative relations. Bilateral trade in goods totaled $323 million in 2016, and the United States provides for duty-free import for a variety of products from Belize. The United States is home to the largest expatriate Belizean community, estimated to be more than 70,000. Reflective of Belize’s success in tourism, more than a million visitors come from the United States each year.” End of quote. The trade policy review is a must under the agreement with the WTO which provides an opportunity to look at the trade policies and practices as well as the country’s adherence to the multilateral rules of trade adopted under the WTO Agreement which was signed in 1994 and entered into force on 1st January 1995. Belize is a founding member of the WTO and has already undergone two previous reviews, one in 2004 and the other in 2010. Belize concluded its presentations successfully and was commended for the progress made and the Economic Growth achieved since the last Trade Policy Review in 2010. Ambassador Vernon emphasized Belize’s intention to pursue its Trade Policy Development, and to comprehensively address the shortcomings identified, in the period ahead. Belize’s fourth Trade Policy Review will be due in 2024.