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Jun 5, 2013

Why didn’t Belize attend SICA/CARICOM meeting in Guatemala?

The Organization of American States and Guatemala’s Minister of Economy hosted a meeting between Caribbean and Central American Business Leaders over the weekend. Belize which is seen as the bridge between SICA and CARICOM was not present. According to the O.A.S. website, the gathering represented several billion dollars in business interests in both regions, and hundreds of thousands of jobs. Jamaica, Barbados, Bahamas and Trinidad were all present at the meeting. Initially, Belize’s ambassador to Guatemala was unaware of the event, but Ambassador Nestor Mendez confirmed that an invitation was sent and he himself reminded the ministry about the importance of attendance. Michael Singh, C.E.O. for the Ministry of Trade and Investment said that he was at the island of Tortolla at the time of the meeting and there are other meetings that Belize will attend.


Jose Sanchez

“Pre-O.A.S. business meeting between CARICOM and SICA, why wasn’t Belize represented?”


Michael Singh, C.E.O., Min. of Trade, Investment, Private Sector Dev.

Michael Singh

“Well we were invited to attend. There was an invitation that came to the minister via BELTRAIDE. That invitation came to me and I had sent a request that since the minister will be in Guatemala for the Guatemala Investment Event along with the executive director of BELTRAIDE, then we would also make an effort to attend that meeting. I was actually not in Guatemala—contrary to what the news reported. I was in Tortolla, British Virgin Islands at another investment forum which I sit on as an advisory for regional trade and investment. With respect to that particular meeting, that was one meeting in a series of many meetings in Guatemala where Belize was represented either by the diplomatic corps or in this case, by BELTRAIDE and the minister at the other investment forum. The forum happened on a Saturday. The travel plans, from what I understand, were done previous to receiving the invitation and the minister and the executive director travelled on that day and for that reason did not attend that meeting. In respect to whether Belize lost any ground by not attending that meeting…”


Jose Sanchez

“Somebody could have attending the meeting for you…”


Michael Singh

“Well it would have had to be one of the other two people that were there, which would have been the minister or the executive director. But as I said, their meeting was in Guatemala City when this meeting was in Antigua…and the travel plans for that day did not fall within the convenience of going to that meeting. As to whether or not that decision was made on the spot, I was not there so I don’t really know.”


Jose Sanchez

“What have we lost being that the O.A.S. website reports that hundreds of millions of dollars worth of investments were presented from the different countries available? Haiti is the next meeting for next year. Have we lost anything?”


Michael Singh

“Well Jose, the other meeting was really a similar type meeting; there were investors from all over Central America. At the other meeting that the minister was at, he met with some of the major business leaders in Central America to talk about Central American investment in general. At that meeting similarly they talked about many issues. The difference between the two meetings is that one meeting was actually Guatemala’s investment development meeting, which was working at trying to speak to investors about investing directly in Guatemala. The second meeting was a meeting between some members of CARICOM with some members of SICA  to discuss cooperation within the region. Now we have had many such meetings. This is only one of many. I have personally attending many meetings under the on the designation of Belize as a bridge. In fact, the meeting I was at in Tortolla, I had a meeting with Caribbean Export to discuss the funding of a project to develop a regional trade enabling center in Belize where CARICOM will use Belize as that platform for getting into not just Central America, but also Mexico. So this conversation has been going on at many, many events. This is only one event that perhaps Belize did not sit at the table at, but it doesn’t mean that we are not talking about this issue. I find it in a big event that contains many, many meeting; that are happening concurrently. The fact that we did not sit in this one particular meeting is not the end of the world because we are having that conversation on an ongoing basis.”

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