Belize Trade Policy Framework and Environment
Despite its active participation in the regional and multilateral trading regime, Belize does not have a National Trade Policy. Following the development and launch of Belize’s Trade Policy Framework in July 2016, a precursor to the National Trade Policy, Government through the Directorate General for Foreign Trade (DGFT) has, as of 2017 embarked on the process of formulating the National Trade Policy which will provide policy guidance and government’s commitment to stimulation growth of Belize’s trade domestically and abroad.
Why the Trade Policy?
Given Belize’s peculiar geographic and economic position and its inability to effectively compete in regional and global markets inundated by sophisticated and rules based trade regime with demanding global standard requirements, there is an inevitable policy paradigm shift that calls for specified economic focus and agenda on trade and development. Thus, the need for a Trade Policy in today’s global and multilateral environment where the majority of countries have identified trade as one of the key growth drivers cannot be overemphasized.
In the past six years, Belize has seen a net growth in the contribution of total exports relative to GDP as seen in the chat below, underscoring the significant role that trade plays in the Belizean economy.
The Trade Policy will amplify the building blocks for trade and development as enshrined in the National Trade Policy Framework (NTPF) premised on four pillars of (i) Institutional Capacity Building, (ii) Enhancing Supply Capabilities, (iii) Ensuring Adequate Market Access for Belizean products and Trade Facilitation.
What will it do?
The Trade Policy will serve the following functions:
- Provide policy guidance on Belize’s overall trade and development agenda;
- Be a blueprint for Government’s structured policy commitments to enhancing socio-economic development through trade;
- Encourage private sector to partner with government in growing the economy through trade and investments;
- Provide harmonious interface between Belize and its interaction in the regional and multilateral trading system;
- Provide ingredients into developing and improving other peripheral legislative frameworks and regimes that augment trade development
How and Who’s Involved
The Government of Belize is not walking alone on this significant national undertaking. With Technical Assistance from the Commonwealth Secretariat under the Hub and Spokes Programme aimed at “Enhancing Trade Capacity Development in the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) States”, a National Trade Adviser stationed within the DGFT has been working with the Government and all relevant stakeholders and spearheading this process.
Significant milestones have been reached and national public and private sector consultative phase has been completed. The policy development remains a work in progress and is expected to be completed by mid-2018.