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Belize Chamber of Commerce & Industry: Tax reforms needed for Belizean businesses to compete against Chetumal Freezone

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Posted: Thursday, December 3, 2020. 3:27 pm CST.

By BBN Staff: As of January 1, 2021, Chetumal Mexico, will become a Freezone, making shopping even more attractive for Belizeans, who already reportedly spend millions of dollars annually across the border. The changes spell trouble for Belizean businesses and the economy at large when the borders reopen, but the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) believes that tax reform is a big part of the solution to the problem.

Our newsroom spoke with Kim Aikman, Chief Executive Officer of the BCCI today, who explained that the idea of tax reform is not a new proposal from the Chamber. Aikman explained that the BCCI has lobbied successive governments to look at comprehensive tax reforms including lowering import duties or, where applicable, removing them altogether, to make prices being charged in Belize for goods more competitive. The subsequent increase in at-home purchases would mean that businesses not only earn more but pay more in taxes which benefits the country as a whole.

“The Chamber has also advocated for buying in Belize, but the prices have to be right,” Aikman said. “The difference in price between goods in Belize and goods in Chetumal is primarily taxes, layers of taxes. It all comes back to taxation.”

Another area that the Chamber has been advocating for, is an exit tax at the border, which would increase the cost of traveling to Chetumal and thereby making it less attractive. The Chamber concedes that consumers have a right to find the best value for their money, but notes that many do not realize the impact buying outside of Belize has on the economy. The BCCI has reached out to Prime Minister John Briceno, about setting up a meeting to discuss policy reforms that would enable economic growth.

 

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