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“Mexico wants to maximize its friendship with Belize,” Mexico’s Minister of Agriculture Dr. Víctor Manuel Villalobos after meeting with Belize’s Minister of Agriculture Jose Abelardo Mai

Posted: Thursday, July 8, 2021. 4:18 pm CST.

By Rubén Morales Iglesias: Mexico’s and Belize’s Ministers of Agriculture reached important cooperation agreements at a meeting held in Chetumal on Thursday.

“We accomplished much today. Both countries share much and Mexico wants to maximize its friendship with Belize,” said Mexico’s Agriculture Minister, Dr. Víctor Manuel Villalobos Arámbula, after the friendly meeting. “We will continue to work together with our regional partners and especially Belize in the future.”

For his part, Belize’s Minister of Agriculture, Food Security, and Enterprise, Jose Abelardo Mai, said he was satisfied with what was achieved at the meeting. “We are very happy to have had this conference and had the response from Mexico we had today,” said Mai. “It is a significant step in the relationship with our neighbour and we will continue our very fruitful relations with them.”

Minister Mai and his delegation visited Chetumal at the invitation of Minister Villalobos Arámbula to hold talks on trade and agriculture.

Communications Director at Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security, and Enterprise (MAFSE), Luis Pook, said the topics discussed included cooperation in agriculture, livestock, and aquaculture. “Both sides affirmed that the meeting was very productive, with both countries agreeing to various cooperative agreements. More meetings will follow between both countries,” said Pook.

“We have put forward the topics that we want to discuss with them in agriculture, such as technical cooperation, genetic improvement in cattle, development of the sheep industry, aquaculture, beekeeping, cooperation in the sectors of fruits and fruit trees such as coconut, citrus and soursop, and tariff exemption on cattle exported to Mexico,” said Minister Mai before travelling to Chetumal.

Belize stands to gain considerably from these talks considering our Northern neighbour is a giant in the region. With a population of 126.1 million people, Mexico offers significant trade opportunities to Belizean producers and service providers. The neighbouring state of Quintana Roo alone had approximately 1.5 million people in the 2015 census.

Belize has recently been exporting cattle to Mexico but stands at a big disadvantage. Having to pay tariffs on those exports means our livestock producers don’t make the types of profit they would if Belize had a partial-scope agreement with Mexico as we do with Guatemala. So, these talks will help pave the way to finalize a partial scope agreement between the two (2) countries.

Currently Belize imports over $200 million worth of products from Mexico each year but only exports around $5 million, representing a mere 2.5% of our imports from that country. Most of our exports to Mexico have been centered on the fisheries and aquaculture sector, such as shrimp, prawn, and rock lobster. Additionally, Belize also exports pepper sauce and essential grapefruit oils.

Minister Mai was accompanied by Chief Executive Officer Servulo Baeza, Technical Adviser Digno Polanco; Сhіеf Аgrісulturе Оffісеr Аndrеw Наrrіѕоn аnd оthеr ѕеnіоr ѕtаff mеmbеrѕ frоm thе Міnіѕtrу оf Аgrісulturе, Веlіzе Аgrісulturе Неаlth Аuthоrіtу (ВАНА), Саrіbbеаn Аgrісulturе Rеѕеаrсh аnd Dеvеlорmеnt Іnѕtіtutе (САRDІ), Сuѕtоmѕ Dераrtmеnt, Міnіѕtrу оf Fіnаnсе, ВЕLТRАІDЕ, plus ОІRЅА Rерrеѕеntаtіvе іn Веlіzе, Fеrmіn Вlаnсо, аnd ІntеrАmеrісаn Іnѕtіtutе fоr Аgrісulturаl Соореrаtіоn (ІІСА) Rерrеѕеntаtіvе, Wіllіе Сhаn.


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