Why Invest in Belize?
Belize, the small English speaking country nestled in the Central America’s pristine west Caribbean coast, is poised to become an international location for niche market business. Belize’s natural assets, development policies and pro-business investment climate have created an ideal destination for investors seeking to have their products and services stand out. Belize offers what investors seek:
- Stability- long standing democratic tradition, independent judiciary; exchange rate has been fixed to the US Dollar ($2.00BZE= $1.00US) for over 25 years.
- Profitability- Flexible fiscal incentives and concessions, commercial Free zones, Export Processing Zones, Repatriation of profits and dividends. Foreign buyers are able to purchase real estate in Belize unrestricted,
- Livability – friendly people, subtropical climate, virgin rainforests, unspoiled beaches and home of the largest barrier reef in the northern hemisphere. Belize prides itself in providing schools with high academic standards, good health care facilities, historic homes, convenient local shopping and most importantly warm and welcoming neighbors.
Fiscal incentive Act was instituted to encourage both existing and potential investors through the granting of customs duty exemption, inclusive of solely the Import Duty and Revenue Replacement Duty. It should be highlighted though that the current legislation and its corresponding policies were initially aimed to foster agriculture (agribusiness) development, with incremental emphases on labor intensity and export worthiness. As such, the current legislation has not been in par with the emerging sectors of recent times, including Tourism and hospitality services, Business Processing Outsourcing (BPO), Energy and Mining.
Export Processing Zone Act was instituted with the aim to attract both local and foreign investments to boost production for export markets through the granting of a full-fledged tax holiday and customs tariffs exemption. However the EPZ Act was amended (2010) to include a social fee on the value of all goods and services imported. The social fee is 10% on fuel and 1.5% on general merchandise. Developed to foster value-adding activities for the export market, such as agro-processing, manufacturing, assembling, and data processing.
Investment Sector Opportunities in Belize:
Tourism Industry- Belize’s excellent natural resources and strong cultural heritage allows for eco-tourism, adventure and cultural tourism to flourish as its main tourism motivations. Secondary tourism motivations range from nautical, cruise, sun & beach and leisure entertainment. In 2011, Belize received over 250,000 overnight tourists and over 727,000 cruise passenger arrivals. This attracts potential investments such as hotel developers.
Agribusiness industry- The availability of productive land 1,998,230 acres) and the right climatic conditions for a large range of agricultural products means that both input provision and output processing activities are great prospects. The close proximity to North America, Central America, South America, and Caribbean markets offers easy access to consumers. These are further promoted by favorable trade agreements. The primary agricultural productions are citrus, banana, sugar cane, pineapple, and papaya. Investment opportunities exist along the entire value chain: production of inputs, production of raw produce, value-addition to agro-produce, aquaculture products and livestock, provisions of storage and export handling facilities (mobile and fixed), transportation and delivery of end produce to consumers.
BPO/ITES Industry- Belize is the only English speaking country in the region with more than 50% of the population speaking a second language. Belize boasts the availability of talented and skilled human resource who can easily adapt to the requirements of the operators and consumers. By the end of 2012, Belize’s BPO’s will be operating close to 2,000 significantly contributing to employment in and around the country’s urban centers. Ninety percent of the established BPO companies operate under the Export Processing Zone Program and enjoys tax exemptions and other fiscal incentives.
Mining, renewable energy and Petroleum
- Mining- Gold, Bauxite, Barytes and Cassiterite are mined in Belize, but not sufficient for export. Dolomite limestone, which is used as road ballast and agricultural fertilizer, was the only mineral exploited in 2000.
- Renewable Energy- With the rapid growth in demand for energy by the year 2030 of 1.7% annually, developing countries seek to improve renewable energy sources. Renewable Energy Technologies (RET) are not new to Belize and are used both in small, isolated applications and power plants. Belize identified potential in hydroelectricity, stand-alone solar PV, small wind electricity generation, solar thermal, hybrid systems (diesel/PV or diesel/ wind), biomass cogeneration and methane production.
- Petroleum- Ten oil companies are actively carrying out exploration of oil, of which 5 are planning to stage to drill exploration wells. Spanish Lookout field’s production has been depleting at an average annual rate of 10%. A total of 8.1 million barrels have been produced to date. Production from Never Delay Oil Field near cotton Tree Village is still being developed by Belize Energy with an average daily production of 97 barrels per day of sour crude.