Minister of Agriculture, Abelardo Mai is saying that the Partial Scope Agreement (PSA) between Belize and Guatemala could possibly prove to be a two-edged sword. As we told you the agreement seeks to develop a formal trade system between both countries and will also entail food and plant safety, customs and trade facilitation matters as well as a review of existing agriculture quotas, tariff codes, and land transportation for goods into Guatemala. According to Mai, while the agreement will benefit both countries particularly in the agriculture sector, there is the need to ensure that our local businesses benefit equally, if not more, from the agreement.
Hon. Jose Abelardo Mai, Minister of Agriculture, Food Security, and Enterprise: “When you don’t have trade agreements with a country, there are certain conditions that they put on you. One of them is a tariff condition that you are, um, any product or certain commodities have certain percentage tariffs. When you make arrangements for a partial scope agreement, you are saying that you will allow Belize to export products to you without or with limited amount of tariffs. So we are looking to do that but mind you, you have to understand that this is a two way street that just as how we can export to Guatemala without tariffs, they can also export to us without condition. So this is a double edged sword. So those who are negotiating free trade agreements or partial scope agreements have to be very mindful that what you give, you might give but you have to take something. So that is where we have to be very careful with what we negotiate and the conditions of importing and exporting will be.”
Mai added that the agreements are still being finalized and are being looked over by the National Trade Negotiation Commission (NTNC).