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Jun 5, 2013

Prime Minister says it’s a pity Belize didn’t participate in forum in Guatemala

Dean Barrow

Prime Minister Dean Barrow also commented on Belize’s absence at the CARICOM/SICA meeting. Barrow said it was a pity that Belize wasn’t there, but he believes that the country is making strides in improving bilateral relations.

 

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“At the Costa Rica session where SICA heads met with Obama, in my intervention, I put squarely on the table the fact that in addition to the bilateral partial scope agreements that Belize is negotiating with individual SICA countries—and I made a point in terms of the volume of trade on our western border; those have increased exponentially as a consequence of the signing of agreement with Guatemala—that colleague heads in SICA should recognize that Belize is the portal through which the SICA countries could access the fourteen member…I think there is one member of CARICOM that not part of the trading arrangement. But that Belize is the portal through which SICA could access the CARICOM markets. So at the highest level, I underlined, gave special emphasis to this portal/bridge concept. Now, if SICA and CARICOM are talking directly, perhaps it is a pity if Belize wasn’t there. I do want to make clear though that we are looking to move beyond the issue of talking to individual SICA countries and concluding bilateral with them. Negotiations have started for Belize to join the trading arrangements of SICA, but in a way that would give special consideration to our circumstances as a smaller economy that is particularly vulnerable. In other words we are looking for a kind of partial scope, a king of concessionary arrangement, but that would see us actually join in the entirety of the regional or the sub-regional trading arrangements. In that kind of a context, the CARICOM /SICA deliberations, discussions, I’m sure we can look at how there might be parallel approaches that would see Belize also playing its role in terms of being a CARICOM member country. but what’s most important is sleeping with our own eyes, looking after our own national interests first. We are moving ahead with these discussions in terms of full fledged trading relations between Belize and SICA.”

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