Belize’s Cabinet in yesterday’s session has given the official green light to have the Corozal Free Zone reopened on February 1. Following the meeting letters were subsequently sent to investors who had agreed to contribute to the installation of sanitization tunnels and other elements in alignment with the Covid-19 protocols. Love News spoke with Minister of Enterprise Jose Mai who briefed us on the progress of the reopening.
Hon. Jose Abelardo Mai, Minister of Agriculture & Food Security: “The Cabinet feels better in making a decision to reopen the Free Zone now after they’ve seen the measures put in place during the Christmas holidays did have positive effects. So the Cabinet decided that on the 1st of February we will open the Free Zone. That is taking into consideration there will be no further spike in cases or massive spikes in cases because you never know all of a sudden there’s a spike in cases, the super spreader as what they say and there’s a big surge in the cases, providing that doesn’t happen the plan is to open on the 1st of February. There was a formula for each investor the Chamber accepted it and so they are footing the entire bill for the operations of the opening of the Free Zone, the measures put in place, the walk in tunnels, the sanitizers and so on they are bearing the full cost. It is they who want the Free Zone to open because there is a critical need to start to generate some income and so I’m certain that they were just waiting for the Cabinet to set a date and once that has been known they will definitely mobilize. I know that some level of preparation is going on, the tunnels I think have been ordered they’re supposed to reach shortly if they’re not here yet I think I may have heard that they were already in the Free Zone or something like that I’m not certain but yes there is some work that is being put in at this time.”
While the ideal situation would have been to have the reopening done before the Christmas season to attract the Mexican buyers, Minister Mai noted that the zone’s investors may still get a chance to do so. Last week we told you of the conversion of Chetumal City into a free zone. In speaking with Minister Mai today we asked him to weigh in how this would impact the Corozal Free Zone.
Hon. Jose Abelardo Mai, Minister of Agriculture & Food Security: “What I’m being told by our Mexican counterparts is that having Chetumal being made a Free Zone that the Mexicans now can come to our Free Zone buy, take it into Chetumal and pay no or little taxes on the goods because what the Chetumal Free Zone is about is that now the people in Chetumal can import with no or little taxes. So that means that they can come to our Free Zone they can buy and take it over and pay little to no taxes that is what I understand it to be but I may be mistaken. We are having a meeting this week to discuss those same concerns; what is the impacts, how do we measure the impacts, what changes do we have to make to mitigate the effects if it’s having negative effects on the Free Zone. But this again is a fluid situation, we are monitoring it and we are going to discuss it this week with the investors from the Free Zone but I understand that it can benefit us, if that is the case then we are in pretty good position.”
Chetumal City was declared a free zone on January 1, 2021.