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Oct 29, 2018

PM Barrow Says Chetumal Will Not Become a Free Zone

There has been a great deal of concern from business owners in the north who are fearful that a pending change of economic activity in neighboring Mexico will adversely affect their bottom line on this side of the Belize/Mexico Border.  Not only has PM Barrow gone on record to say that Chetumal will not become a free zone as stated by incoming president Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador, he told the media today that the plan to spur economic activity in Mexico will begin at its northern border with the United States.  He says that if and when it reaches Chetumal the cost of value added tax will only be halved and there is no need to panic.


Dean Barrow

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“The kerfuffle the announcement has created in our country centers on fears for the Corozal free zone, for the Corozal District generally, and indeed for the wider Belizean economy.  The alarm is that Chetumal will become even more of a magnet for Belizeans, we will hemorrhage Belize dollars and our local merchants will be mightily squeezed.  It is a development that government takes seriously, but our analysis convinces us that there are implements aplenty in our toolkit, sufficient to counter the danger and that in any event we should be careful not to overstate that danger and go into panic mode.  As I understand it, and as confirmed by Belize’s ambassador to Mexico, His Excellency Oliver del Cid, the Mexican president elect is certainly not looking to harm Belize.  His program is to stimulate activity and fight poverty and is to be implemented first in the border areas with the US.  It is only after that has been done and assessed, evaluated, that there would be the possibility of rolling out the initiative to Chetumal.  And of what really is the program made of?  The VAT, the EVA, as they call it, will not be eliminated.  Let’s talk about Chetumal.  The VAT in Chetumal will not be eliminated, rather it will be cut in half to eight percent.  Thus, that means with eight percent VAT, eight percent taxes, there can be no tax-free shopping in Chetumal such as would converted into a free zone to compete with ours.”

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