Posted: Thursday, July 20, 2017. 5:19 a.m. CST.
By BBN Staff: A Business Forum organized by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) Group and the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry attracted more than 50 representatives of the country’s public and private sectors for a discussion of investment opportunities in agribusiness, energy, transport, tourism and financial institutions.
James P. Scriven, CEO of the IDB Group’s Inter-American Investment Corporation (IIC), explained that the IIC is increasing its local presence in Belize and intends to finance diverse sectors.
“We are a development bank, and we want to demonstrate to the world that it is commercially viable to invest in a country like Belize,” he said.
Scriven stated there are considerable opportunities for expanding financing to the private sector. For example, he noted that, while agriculture accounts for 12.5% of Belize’s GDP, 10.2% of employment and more than 67% of exports, just 7% of the country’s land that is suitable for farming is currently being utilized.
With just 22% of paved roads and limited infrastructure capacity in Belize, investments in transport infrastructure such as roads, the international airport and seaports could help lower the cost of doing business and could help boost intra-regional trade.
During his three-day visit to Belize, Scriven had a variety of meetings with government officials and private companies in key economic areas. This included tourism, transportation, banking and insurance, agribusiness and energy.
During the 25 years that Belize has been a shareholder in the IDB, the Bank has financed a variety of public sector projects in the country, in areas such as transport, flood mitigation, education, youth programs and sustainable tourism. However, it has had very limited exposure to private sector operations in Belize’s small, natural resources-based economy.
Given that Belize’s private sector accounts for more than half of employment and credit and 80% of consumption, the Bank seeks to expand financing for private companies.
In January 2016, the IDB consolidated its private sector operations in the IIC to better serve its clients and partners in the region, and to maximize its development impact. The IIC supports the private sector and state-owned enterprises through financing in the form of loans, equity investments, and guarantees, as well as advisory services to clients.
The IIC has a specific mandate to increase lending for Caribbean countries and other small economies and to identify ways to utilize IIC resources to serve their private sector and contribute to development impact.
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