In recent months, Prime Minister John Briceno had visited the leaders of our neighboring countries, Mexico and Guatemala. At the end of both meetings, the Prime Minister spoke of several commitments and plans made that would benefit Belize. In our sit-down with the PM on Wednesday, Love News received an update on whether those plans have begun unfolding.
John Briceno, Prime Minister of Belize: “We’re starting to see the benefits of those meetings. For instance in Guatemala there was this concern that they would have closed the informal cattle trade, so far I think we have exported to Guatemala I think the minister said to the tune of $30 million dollar worth of cattle. What the government has done is to basically allow that informal trade to continue whilst we start to negotiate the partial scope to include other items. We have a partial scope agreement with Guatemala but we need to expand it to include some of the products where we have a competitive advantage like cattle and pork and chicken and eggs, some of the grains, the shrimp, the tilapia. These are products that we have a competitive advantage so the negotiations have started between Guatemala and Belize to try to improve that.”
According to Prime Minister Briceno things will begin unfolding much later due to the system of governance in Mexico. Additionally, Briceno spoke on the imbalance in imports and exports in and out of Mexico.
John Briceno, Prime Minister of Belize: “Now with Mexico, Mexico is a way bigger country in the world it’s probably one of the top ten economies in the world or certainly top twenty. So their bureaucracy is so much bigger and takes a little bit longer to get the wheels turning but in our discussions with the president Lopez Obrador we started off saying that we want a partial scope agreement but Mexico is not into partial scope agreements they’re into free trade agreements and wanted to discuss a free trade agreement with us but we made it the point that we’re not there yet because as it is right now we are importing legally approximately $250 million dollars that is recorded at the Customs Department, I believe that a lot more is imported to Belize but two fifty but yet we’re only exporting about 500,000 dollars into Mexico so there is this huge imbalance that we need to be able to close that gap. So to be able to do that then what we have done is that we’ve changed it into a trade and investment agreement that we’re working on. We mentioned to the president about the high tariffs for cattle because we are exporting cattle now into Mexico and they agreed there that they’re prepared to reduce the taxes substantially so that then our farmers can get an even better price fro the beef. And so we have started that discussion so now we have to get the negotiators from both sides to meet together and to start that discussion. I’m confident that Minister Courtenay as the Minister of Foreign Trade is already working on getting that moving.”