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Sep 19, 2006

Beltraide seeks more investments for Belize

Story PictureEconomists and politicians generally agree that Belize needs more investment. But that’s the easy part. The tough job is how to find it … and how to ensure that it works for Belizeans. News Five’s Janelle Chanona reports on the latest efforts.

Janelle Chanona, Reporting
This morning, Beltraide and the Belize Business Bureau teamed up for a Belize Investment Forum at the Princess Hotel and Casino in Belize City. Special invited guests at the event were thirty-two potential investors based in Los Angeles. And today, Belize was being marketed as ?a natural niche? for investment.

Mel Auil Jr., President, B.B.B.
?In Belize, it is relatively simple to acquire property and start up your own company. This can be done in less than a week, reflecting the high level of efficiency here. The people of Belize are the single most important asset to any investor. The Belizean worker is honest, will work hard and is trainable. We are your partners in development, we are a nation alive, a people with pride and at twenty-five, we are fast emerging into the international markets.?

But after the smiles and handshakes, does an event like this one really produce results?

Roy Young, Consul General to Los Angeles
?What I have said to them is that they must come here with technology that will cost the country far less. So it?s a whole range of services and investments that we?re offering. It?s not just come and visit and then nothing happens. No. we?ll certainly do a lot of follow up with Beltraide and with the group in Los Angeles.?

Lourdes Smith, Executive Director, Beltraide
?It is difficult to measure immediately the impact, but what definitely can be measured in the short term is the fact that there are follow up meetings. The contacts are made and the networking starts.?

Beltraide?s Executive Director, Lourdes Smith, maintains that the idea behind the investment forum is simply to get the ball rolling.

Lourdes Smith
?There is a favouring for more tourism related investments and we try to promote for those who are just scouting to see what type of investment ? more agriculture, agro-processing light manufacturing or those types of investments. I think you?ve seen some of the booths out there and you might say some of them are not really businesses but those are support services for investors. So if you are aware of what support services are there when you are investing in Belize, it makes you understand better and make your decisions quicker.?

Mark Espat, Minister of National Development
?Belize is a natural niche for serious, legitimate, medium term strategic investors. If you are a speculator hoping for a quick profit, Belize is not your choice, to speak frankly.?

And according to Minister of National Development Mark Espat, Belize?s hottest investment tickets are in aquaculture, information technology and of course, petroleum … but it?s our location that will bring in the bucks.

Mark Espat
?Our access to both the Central American markets and the Caribbean Single market and Economy are the windows to huge markets in manufacturing and distribution operations. The Corozal Free Zone?s resilience can confirm the over one hundred million person Mexican market to the north for goods and services. And finally, ladies and gentlemen, our government places a premium, an absolute premium on attracting foreign direct investment as well as catering to our Belizean investors particularly in these high potential areas and specifically from investors who seek medium and long term partnerships with our people and with our institutions.?

Reporting for News Five, I am Janelle Chanona.

The business delegation from Los Angeles will leave Belize on Saturday.

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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