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Sep 12, 2013

Belize finalizes Economic Partnership Agreement Implementation Plan

Belize is getting ready to finalize a National Economic Partnership Agreement Implementation Plan. To this end, a validation workshop was held today at the Best Western Belize Biltmore Plaza. Various technicians, private sector representatives and other stakeholders gathered to analyze the different steps necessary to finalize the E.P.A., as it is referred to. The validation meeting is critical because it places Belize on a better position to implement the provisions of the agreement. The EPA is basically a trade and development agreement between the Caribbean Forum of African, Caribbean and Pacific States and the European Union.  But where is Belize in taking advantage of these trading opportunities? Director of Foreign Trade in the Ministry of Trade, Investment Promotion, Private Sector Development and Consumer Protection, Yashin Dujon, says Belize’s standards are among the best in the region.

 

Yashin Dujon, Director of Foreign Trade

“Where Belize is right now, is that we are in the preparation stage of getting our exports ready for the European market; getting our services ready to compete with those around us to enter into Europe. You will be aware that we launched a rather extensive trade policy program earlier this year. We are negotiating partial scope agreements with El Salvador, Mexico; we intend to pursue Honduras very soon. We intend to actually go outside the region as well ad find different trading partners. So this fits right in with what the national plan is. So for us we are in a preparation stage. We are getting the private sector ready; we are getting the public sector ready for the changes that will have to be done as a ready to trade country. The standards and the quality of the exports going out of Belize have been meeting the CARICOM standards over the years. We intend to raise the bar a little bit and there is nothing wrong with going beyond what is required of you to be able to actually export to all corners of the globe.”

 

Yashin Dujon

Duane Moody

“So what is next after this? Are you guys expected to have follow up workshops?”

 

Yashin Dujon

“Well this is the validation workshop so this workshop is where we take the findings that we have gotten over the last couple of years and run them through the technicians, the private sector, to make sure everybody understands what needs to be done. After this becomes the implementation and that may take another two to three years to actually get us prepped and ready so that the goods and services are export prepped. So you will be seeing a lot of workshops for private sector. You will be seeing a lot of workshops with the public sector where we have to work with different departments to get them ready so that our goods can be in the international access.  The immediate economic factor really is access to the European market. I mean this is a large expansive market of consumers most of which have a traditional consumptive base. So we are trying to get our goods there, we are trying to develop new goods; we are trying to get our services there. We are trying to let them know that Belize is open for business.”

 

Dujon advices that goods and services should be produced for the export market even if they are for domestic consumption.

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