In the absence of a comprehensive national trade policy since its independence, Belize has adopted a number of policy instruments in the foreign trade area, as well as engaging in regional economic integration processes, without having a specific policy guideline for their design, implementation and impact assessment. While such an option has the advantage of flexibility and affords the feasibility for rapid adaptation to national and international economic developments, it is evident that the current social, economic and environmental development challenges that Belize faces require more long-term planning and regular monitoring and evaluation of both the public and the private sector endeavors in foreign trade.
Belize has since sought to consolidate all the existing trade policy instruments into a crosscutting policy framework. This effort resulted in the formulation of a National Trade Policy Framework for the country. This framework will provide the impetus and foundation for the development of a comprehensive National Trade Policy to guide Belize’s trade agenda for the next decade.
The General Objectives of National Trade Policy Framework are:
- Expansion of foreign trade for sustainable economic development
- Development of Human Capital and Entrepreneurial Spirit
- Achieve higher living standards for the people of Belize
- Development of efficient productive practices to boost international competitiveness
- Enhancing Trade Relations with a focus on Latin America and the Caribbean.
Strategic Guiding Principles
The three guiding principles represents the key principles on which Belize’s Trade Policy Framework is based, these are:
- Promoting Competitiveness for Producers and Exporters
- Attaining asymmetrical treatment in negotiations; as an SVE,
- Continued support for the principle of regionalism.
The National Trade Policy Framework has been conceived as a set of Policy Commitments to be adopted by the Executive making the mandatory and sustained over the long-term. This framework shall lend to the drafting of a comprehensive National Trade Policy by 2017 pending the fulfillment of the obligation outlined in the framework. The main purpose of this Trade Policy Framework is to guide the actions of both the Government and the Private Sector in the identified policy areas for the period 2015 – 2016, as well as to adequately organize the processes of the Policy Cycle and accountability for the trade sectors stakeholders and, largely, the People of Belize.
The Policy Commitments have been categorized into four (4) Policy Pillars, namely:
- Institutional Capacity – To effectively execute this policy framework, Belize must put in place the legislative mandate, technical and administrative mechanisms to operate on the highest levels of expertise and professionalism. Consolidation of the Directorate General for Foreign Trade on these factors would enhance Belize’s international negotiating profile.
- Supply Capacity – This pillar seeks to leverage market access by converging policies to support expansion of productive forces for diversifying the export basket; fostering innovation and entrepreneurship; and improving Belize’s investment profile.
- Market Access – This pillar focuses on three areas that would expand trading opportunities, such as: assessing Belize’s productive capacity to export; diversifying, consolidating and improving access and entry to markets; and positioning Belize as a regional hub between the Caribbean and Central America.
- Trade Facilitation – The Trade Facilitation pillars focus Belize attention on three key areas: Enhancing procedures and documentation for importation, exportation and transit; Greater facilitation for the formal trade and payment flows; Improving transportation of goods to Central America through their International Transit of Goods system.
These four pillars are:
- Guided by three (3) Policy Principles
- Proposes ten (10) Policy Commitments
- Recommends thirty (30) Policy Instruments, and
- To be implemented under seventy-three (73) specific Government actions that must be met in order to secure successor this policy.
See detailed NATIONAL TRADE POLICY FRAMEWORK approved by the Cabinet.