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Oct 17, 2018

Corozal Free Zone to be Affected by Mexico’s Free Zone Program

Last week, Mexico’s President-Elect, Lopez Obrador announced plans to transform Chetumal into a free zone where VAT, the value-added tax, will decrease from sixteen percent to eight percent on goods and services. That’s a reduction of fifty percent which is bound to attract consumers from this side of the border and likely to have a further crippling effect on the Corozal Free Zone. The free zone on this side of the border over the years has been under life support with businesses closing and loss of jobs. With the latest announcements, many economic observers believe that the Corozal Free Zone will be further affected. Opposition Leader John Briceño views Mexico’s announcement as a national matter that requires immediate and strategic attention. Briceño added that this not only threatens the viability and sustainability of the zone but the Belizean economy on a whole. He says that the Government needs to be more creative in order to ensure not only its longevity but it’s much needed economic growth.

 

John Briceño, Leader of the Opposition

John Briceño

“What has our government doing? Was our government aware of this? Now that is has been announced, has the government called in the Mexican ambassador to get a briefing as to what is taking place? Has the government called in the people in the free zone to have a discussion with them as to how we can change? There are three fundamental issues affecting the free zone. One is political instability. By that, I mean that it seems there is no minister that is really in charge of the free zone. From time to time you don’t know who the minister is. A part of that political instability is the people who they put to run, you know the CEO. It is apolitical lackey that has no knowledge of business, how to run a business. So that is the first part. Secondly, the infrastructure; the infrastructure is in a horrendous state and it continues to get worse. The third is the issue of morale. A lot of people in the free zone believe that because of what the government has done to them, people in this country look at the free zone just to sell liquor, cigarette and even some allegations of money laundering. The moral is low. It is much more than that. Most importantly, over a thousand Belizeans depend on the free zone. So we need to start off by addressing these three issues. Also, we need to be more creative with the free zone.”

 

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