Posted: Monday, May 16, 2022. 9:28 am CST.
By Aaron Humes: The Government of Belize is still buzzing from the brief, but from Belmopan’s point of view historic, visit of Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Saturday last.
During Friday’s meeting of the House of Representatives, Prime Minister John Briceno and Agriculture Minister Jose Mai talked up the benefits of Mexico’s decision to slash tariffs on Belizean agricultural products for export to Mexico to zero.
Said the Prime Minister, “I can remember very clearly between 1998 and 2008; we worked very hard to be able to get our rice, Belizean rice, to be exported to Mexico. That is Plan Belize in action. And we have the issue with rice, beans and sorghum, and all these other products that can be grown in Belize and can be exported competitively to Mexico. These generous commitments will now pave the way for an expedited trade and investment facilitation between our two countries.”
The P.M. said Belize is forming its expert teams to pursue negotiations with its Mexican counterparts, including the National Trade Negotiating Commission.
And according to Mai, Belize will be able to tap into a very rich market. To feed its population of 123 to 128 million, in 2020 alone, Mexico imported billions in corn, soybeans and soybean oil, rice, sheep and goat meat, bovine and pig meat, poultry, and eggs. As he states, “So whatever Belize can produce and market to Mexico is not even a drop in the bucket but merely a sprinkle. And so income to farmers, their families, and employees will pour; it will pour. Foreign exchange will multiply, improving our economy, and improving lives.”
But as always the devil is in the details. As Mai explained, “For the tariff suspension to take effect, the Ministry of Finance and Economy of Mexico must sign a decree, which is passed on to the Commission of International Trade for subsequent publication in the official newspaper of the Federation. This process takes about 8 working days, according to a statement made by the Minister of Economy Tatiana Clothier.” The Prime Minister added, “It has been a game-changer, but now, the hard work. We have to now meet with the technical people and continue to grind them and grind them until we can put this into action.”
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