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Jul 17, 2015

Ministry of Foreign Trade Discusses Partial Scope Agreement with Private Sector

The Ministry of Foreign Trade and its partners held a seminar to discuss the Partial Scope Agreement (P.S.A.) with private sector partners. It’s an agreement signed a few years ago that aims to strengthen the commercial and economic relations between the two countries through facilitating the expansion and diversification of goods. Since the trade between the two countries started under the P.S.A., Guatemala, for the most part, has capitalized on the agreement. For Belize, however, it is a whole different story. Locally, we are only doing trade with twelve of the goods that are covered under the agreement.  News Five spoke with Director at the Directorate of Foreign Trade, Dr. Leroy Almendarez.

 

Dr. Leroy Almendarez, Director, Directorate of Foreign Trade,

“It is now the fifth anniversary, if you will, of the Partial Scope Agreement between Belize and Guatemala. Now what does that mean? That means that there is the potential to expand the scope of the agreement and for us to do that when we go into discussions is for us to understand as public sector what are some of the issues faced by the private sector? If we are talking about expanding some of the lines, for example, we are talking about products here; then what are those products that are ready for market access, market ready. The question has to be asked whether those products will meet the requirements of Guatemala in terms of quality, standards, and those things are important for us. So, these sessions will help us to understand what those challenges really are.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“Perhaps smaller businesses are not aware that some of those line items are duty exempted, things like that. Talk to us about what that agreement covers especially as it relates to businesses locally?”

 

Dr. Leroy Almendarez

“That is why here now, for us, in our discussion we are talking about small and medium size enterprises because they do play a part in the whole economic development of this country. So, for us, we are now talking about partnering with at least one of the banks to go through focus groups to discuss with smaller businesses, because yes, there are opportunities for them to get their products into markets. These discussions, though it seems that it might be focused on the PSA between Belize and Guatemala, we are talking about future trade, we are talking about the possibility of the commencement of negotiations between Belize and Mexico and beyond that.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“Talk to us about just how much of that we are tapping into at this moment?”

 

Dr. Leroy Almendarez

“Let me just use numbers, because in terms of reciprocity, the numbers were seventy eight-seventy eight and in our discussion we heard that of the seventy eight items, we are only using or making use of only twelve of them; citrus related products, wooden furniture, corn, cattle and others, but there are sixty six of them out there that we need now to find out where is the capacity. Because if they are utilizing their  full seventy eight and we are using only twelve then all of that has to be addressed, but remember, we can’t only say “Guatemala, allow seventy eight products into your market,” but it’s not available. The productive capacity must be there. The export readiness, all of those things must be there.”

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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