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Jul 8, 2004

Study pinpoints best investment areas

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The announcement earlier this week of the marketing breakthrough for Marie Sharp’s hot pepper sauce and other products in the United States is a success story that other local producers are being encouraged to emulate. And while Marie Sharp had to accomplish the feat the old fashioned way, her successors will now have the benefit of a fresh survey into what areas are best suited for export and investment. This week consultants A to Z Information of Jamaica handed over to BELTRAIDE their report on the identification of priority areas for investment and export promotion. According to David Gomez, Project Manager for the Inter American Development Bank which funded the study, it was an exercise that was worth the time and money.

David Gomez, I.D.B. Project Manager

?What we did was we adopted a combined approach. What we realized was that tourism holds very strong opportunities for Belize, both as an industry and sector in and of itself and in terms of opportunities for developing and strengthening any existing intersectoral linkages. By that, I mean that if we have a very strong industry that we could move forward with then definite opportunities would exist there for agriculture, services and other areas; so tourism came forward as very strong one.?

Patrick Jones, Reporting

?The consultants found out and the minister agreed there was nothing earth shattering in this report. Did we need this exercise to basically tell us what we already know??

David Gomez

?Well certainly…I think a large part of being able to assess previous work is a new swathe so to speak, and I think in a lot of ways this exercise either built upon previous activities that set the foundation for creating a new strategy forward, as well as identifying new areas. What happen is that two or three previous prioritisation studies had looked at and identified perhaps diversification in agriculture and things like that. What this sets out now is perhaps a framework for charting a new strategy forward. So it is certainly is most necessary in that.?

Mark Espat, Minister of Investment

?The trade regime, as you know and as everyone knows, has been changing dramatically over the last several years. The whole free trade and globalisation movement has changed the market so to speak, for many of our traditional products. I think the private sector has been searching to some degree for what the medium and long-term plans are for Belize. And certainly speaking on behalf of BELTRAIDE and of our ministry, I think that this study really gives us that laser sharp focus that we need in order to ensure that we are directing our energies and our resources, scant as they are, in exactly the right direction.?

Patrick Jones

?Is there any competitive advantages that Belize has that the other one hundred and ninety-nine countries don?t??

Mark Espat

?Well certainly we do. As we say to investors everyday, we offer a very stable investment climate; we offer an independent judiciary; we offer a stable currency; we are, in the case of tourism, an hour and a half from the most prolific, the most dynamic tourism market on the planet, the United States; we have excellent air access and improving sea access to the United States; we can act as a platform to Central America and to the Caribbean Single Market and Economy. I think Belize is in a unique position to attract foreign direct investments, to grow our exports if we do things the right way, if we manage our resources prudently.?

Espat says the study, which was carried out over a six month period, will be included in BELTRAIDE’s development plan, which was released earlier this year. The survey was carried out at a cost of twenty five thousand dollars.

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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