Posted: Friday, November 9, 2018. 8:19 am CST.
By BBN Staff: Since 1995, Belize has been a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) whose main objective is to supervise and liberalize international trade and as a signatory, Belize is legally bound to comply with its various rules, one of which is the “Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures (ASCM).”
Belize’s Export Processing Zone (EPZ) program has been identified as in violation of the ASCM and the Government of Belize is requesting stakeholder participation in the passage of a new bill for an Act titled the Designated Processing Areas Act which will bring Belize into compliance.
Since 2002, Belize has complied with the requirement to notify the WTO of its incentives including the EPZ program.
The country has also complied with the requirement to complete and notify the WTO of an “Action Plan”, which was approved in 2011.
A working group has been meeting from the beginning of 2014 to implement this Action Plan and make Belize’s incentives compliant with the ASCM agreement.
The working group received technical assistance and a report with recommendations from a consultant (Dr. Claudius Preville) facilitated by the Commonwealth Secretariat in 2015.
This report was presented to private sector stakeholders who indicated the preferred options on 25 , September 2015 in Belize City.
As a part of the process to bring the EPZ Act into compliance with the ASCM, the Ministry is mandated to finalize its consultation with the private sector before the bill is taken to the House of Representatives.
The Ministry of Investment, Trade and Commerce invites all EPZ companies, stakeholders and the media to attend the consultation on Friday, 9th November 2018.
The purpose of this consultation is to acquire your suggestions and concordance for the draft legislation.
Important parts of the act that have been addressed include the export requirement, definitions, classification of designations, duration of exemptions, administrative procedures, functions of various stakeholders etc.
The consultation will be held at 8:30 a.m. today, Friday, November 9, 2018, at the River Hall, Best Western Belize Biltmore Plaza Hotel in Belize City.
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