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Sep 1, 2023

The Belize Investment Summit Comes to an End

The Belize Investment Summit 2023 has come to a close. Day two of the event saw conversations on leveraging capital and investment in Belize’s priority sector. But, at the end of the two-day event, how many investment agreements have actually materialized? And, how did the island benefit from the influx of attendants over the last two days? News Five’s Paul Lopez reports.


Paul Lopez, Reporting

Day two of the Belize Investment Summit began with a conversation on leveraging natural capital, or land, in the investment value chain. That dialogue was led by Cordel Hyde, the Minister of Natural Resources.


Cordel Hyde

Cordel Hyde, Minister of Natural Resources

“There has to be that balance between economic prosperity, environmental responsibility and social progress. It is our special mission, our enduring fidelity in this government and in this Ministry of Natural Resources, Petroleum and Mining that I have been tasked to manage by the honorable prime minister. Development is not extractive in nature but inclusive in output that it is about equitable distribution and fairness. It is about avoiding what some call the tragedy of the commons where the incentives to degrade natural capital before someone else does is high. Investments in Belize will grow and prosper in conjunction with the prosperity of Belizeans. Crime, poverty, unproductively, like gathering storms bode ill for that delicate flower called the investment climate. So the quality of utilizing land for greater equity is, we believe, unchallengeable.”


The Belize Trade and Investment Development Service (BELTRAIDE) is among the main entities behind the planning and execution of the summit. Dr. Leroy Almendarez, the Executive Director of BELTRAIDE, spoke with reporters about the investments deriving from events like this.


Leroy Almendarez

Leroy Almendarez, Executive Director, BELTRAIDE

“From under the fiscal incentive it was about six hundred million in investments that materialized and under the designated processing area it was over five million. So there have been a lot of results. As a matter of fact, in 2021 it was hybrid because of the pandemic. So there were a lot of people who were tuned in virtually and it created a greater awareness. We over sold and I must say this, there were packages that were sold it was not free. This was sponsored with large sponsorship from the IDB, the Taiwan Embassy, UNDP, CARICOM Development Fund, Finance Service Commission.”


Day two of the summit also saw a panel discussion on investments in areas that are considered Belize’s priority sectors, which are agriculture and energy.


Jose Abelardo Mai

Jose Abelardo Mai, Minister of Agriculture

“Many years ago the investors would tell you that to invest in a cannery would cost millions of dollars and it would be a building this long and big. Today with modern technology the canneries are smaller plants. I believe this is an area where our private and public sector can get together to form some kind of investments. Where we have fallen asleep is adding value to our products to export to our CARICOM brothers and sisters.”


Kareem Musa

Kareem Musa, Minister of New Growth Industries

“You look at for instance the film industry. When this Hall Mark team came in they noticed that they had to bring every single piece of equipment with them whether it is for sound or lighting, everything. One of the things they recommended and we identified, there is a need to have a film truck. A film truck of course outfitted with all the nuts and bolts necessary, the basics to get a film going in this particular going. So again that is another opportunity for a PPP. The private company can lease out their film truck so as to avoid these companies having to bring all their technical equipment with them.”


Michel Chebat

Michel Chebat, Minister of Energy

“We are looking to partner for the development of solar farms as I said earlier. We are also looking at wind energy. The ministry is also involved in a waste to energy research paper. If you look at that sector you would know the country produces over three thousand tons of municipal garbage for month and what are we doing with that? We are burying it in the ground. So how do we take that and create an industry out of it and have it contribute to our energy market?”


The Belize Investment Summit 2023 came to a close today.  San Pedro Town Mayor, Gualberto “Wally” Nunez says the summit has provided a boost for the local economy during the tourism slow season. He says that close to a hundred flights, including private jets, came to the island on Saturday.


Gualberto ‘Wally” Nunez

Gualberto ‘Wally” Nunez, Mayor San Pedro Town

“It gives us an economic boost to the island, especially in a time we all know that August, September, October is the slowest months. So we see a lot of people coming in. Yesterday there were like eighty flights coming in just for the summit. We know there were some private jets coming in. So, it is something very good for us. I see some of the people who came for the summit all over town, at the restaurants, renting golf carts, staying at the resorts and hotels. So it does bring boost to our local economy.”


Reporting for News Five, I am Paul Lopez.

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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