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First National Trade Policy launch

The Ministry of Investment, Trade and Commerce unveiled its first National Trade Policy which seeks to increase Belize’s competitiveness.  The policy has been in the making for over five years, responding to the complex demands of the regional and multilateral trading systems. Tracy Taegar-Panton, Minister of Investment, Trade and Commerce says the launch is a significant milestone in the development of Belize’s trade agenda.

Minister of Investment, Trade and Commerce Tracy Taegar Panton: “The National Trade Policy seeks to address five primary objectives: reducing the cost of doing business, improving the competitiveness and trade performance of Belizean branded goods and services, strengthening institutional capacity and the regulatory framework for trade facilitation and trade development, increasing market access and market entry GDP growth. The rallying cry has been our government’s intervention in reducing the cost of inputs. Both the cost and the ease of doing business, as well as to provide access for affordable capitol for medium to small entrepreneurs. Recently the Government appealed as the President of the Chamber mentioned the Export Processing Zone Act and replaced it with the designative processing areas act to ensure that we remain in good standing with the EU code of conduct as it relates to exports. Additionally we are in the process of rolling out phase 2 of an initiative that will provide you to exemptions on packaging materials for small and medium enterprises.”

The trade policy spans over a 12-year period with intentions for a mid-term assessment after its first six years.  Additionally, the trade policy seeks to lower the high cost of doing business which has proven to be the main hindrance to trade development.

Minister of Investment, Trade and Commerce Tracy Taegar Panton: “We are currently working on an actual action plan and implementation schedule that also takes into account all the key stakeholder in the public sector and the private sector. The first step obviously is to sensitize the relevant agencies and department. Export lets in industries on the details on the span even though they should be sufficiently sensitized because they have been involved in the process and also to make sure that it gets integrated into the planning for trade development for future market access.”

The policy was developed with the assistance of the Commonwealth Secretariat and is accompanied by an implementation plan which will include an effective monitoring and evaluation mechanism.