Doing Business with Belize
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Doing Business with Belize Document Transcript

  • 1. DOING BUSINESS WITH BELIZE May 2007Caribbean Export Development Agency (Caribbean Export) P. O. Box 34B, Brittons Hill St. Michael Barbados Tel: (246) 436-0578 Fax: (246) 436-9999 E-mail: info@carib-export.com Website: www.carib-export.com
  • 2. DOING BUSINESS WITH BELIZE DOING BUSINESS WITH BELIZE TABLE OF CONTENTS1. GENERAL INFORMATION..................................................................................... 32. THE ECONOMY........................................................................................................ 5 2.1 Structure of the Economy ................................................................................... 5 2.2 Recent Economic Performance........................................................................... 5 2.3 Balance of payments ........................................................................................... 5 2.4 Overview of Trade .............................................................................................. 5 2.5 Belize Trade with CARICOM ............................................................................ 63. GENERAL MARKETING FACTORS...................................................................... 7 3.1 Distribution and Sales Channels ......................................................................... 7 3.2 Use of Agents/Distributors ................................................................................. 7 3.3 Franchising.......................................................................................................... 7 3.4 Promotion............................................................................................................ 7 3.5 Transportation ..................................................................................................... 74. MARKET ACCESS CONDITIONS .......................................................................... 9 4.1 Customs Tariffs................................................................................................... 9 4.2 Free Trade Agreements..................................................................................... 10 4.3 Non-Tariff Barriers ........................................................................................... 10 4.4 Import Documentation ..................................................................................... 10 4.5 Labelling and Marking Requirements .............................................................. 11 4.6 Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Measures..................................................... 11 4.7 Prohibited and Restricted Imports .................................................................... 13 4.8 Standards........................................................................................................... 13 4.9 Product Certification......................................................................................... 135. INVESTMENT PROFILE........................................................................................ 14 5.1 Investment Incentives Schemes ........................................................................ 14 5.2 Foreign Investment Regime.............................................................................. 14 5.3 Free Trade Zones .............................................................................................. 15 6.1 Right to Private Ownership............................................................................... 17 6.2 Establishing an Office....................................................................................... 17 6.3 Work Permit Requirements............................................................................... 18 6.4 Intellectual Property Rights .............................................................................. 18 6.5 Conversion and Transfer Policies ..................................................................... 197. CULTURAL PRACTICES....................................................................................... 20 7.1 Business Customs ............................................................................................. 20 7.2 Entry/Exit Requirements:.................................................................................. 20 2
  • 3. DOING BUSINESS WITH BELIZE the north to 200 inches in the south1. GENERAL annually.INFORMATIONOfficial Name: Belize Principal Cities and Population: (2005 est.)Capital: Belmopan Belize City 60,800 San Ignacio 16,800Area: 22,966 sq. km Orange Walk 15,300 Belmopan 13,500Population: 294,385 (July 2007 est.) Dangriga 10,800Population growth index: Airports: 3.4% (2006 est.) As of 2005, an estimated 43 airports and airstrips were in operation. ThePopulation density: international airport is Philip S. W.12.82 inhabitants per square kilometer Goldson International Airport in Ladyville, outside of Belize City.Official language: English, the Currently, the international airport isofficial language, is spoken by virtually served by American, Continental, Delta,all except the refugees who arrived TACA and US Air, along with localduring the past decade. Spanish is the airlines Maya Island and Tropic. Anative tongue of about 50 percent of the runway expansion program set to bepeople and is spoken as a second completed in 2007 may allow largerlanguage by another 20 percent. The aircraft to land and may encourage newvarious Mayan groups still speak their direct or nonstop service from Europeindigenous languages, and an English and Canada. Also in Belize City is theCreole dialect similar to the Creole Municipal Airport, on the seafront offdialects of the English-speaking Princess Margaret Drive. In addition, aCaribbean Islands is spoken by most. number of local airports and airstrips provide for flights within Belize. FlightsCurrency: Dollar (BZD) are readily available with destination including Belize City, Corozal,Exchange rate: Since 1976 Dangriga, Placencia, Sarteneja,Belizean banks have bought U.S. dollars Savannah and Punta Gorda on theat the rate of 2.0175 and sold them at mainland. Ambergris Caye and Caye1.9825, making for an effective fixed Caulker, two small islands off Belizesrate of Belize $2=U.S. $1 coast, can also be reached by plane. Local flights are relatively inexpensive, beginning at about $30 (US). Fares forClimate: Subtropical; very hot and domestic flights from the municipalhumid; rainy season (May toNovember); dry season (February toMay). Rainfall ranges from 60 inches in 3
  • 4. DOING BUSINESS WITH BELIZEairport generally are lower than from the coming from well-known ‘high-risk’international airport.1 areas (parts of South America and Africa) are required to get the YellowPorts: Fever vaccination before entering the• Belize City country. Visitors may at their discretion• Big Creek take precaution by receiving medication• Corozal Town before leaving for their trip.• Punta GordaHolidays:New Year’s Day Jan 01Baron Bliss Day Mar 12Good Friday Apr 06Holy Saturday Apr 07Easter Monday Apr 09Labour Day May 01Sovereign’s Day May 21National Day Sep 10Independence Day Sep 21Pan American Day Oct15Garifuna Settlement Day Nov 19Christmas Day Dec 25Boxing Day Dec 26Life Expectancy: Total Population -67.4 yearsLiteracy Rate: Total Population -76.5%Local Time: UTC-6 (1 hour behindWashington, DC during Standard Time).Daylight Saving Time is not observed inBelize.Telephone Codes: 501Health: Belize considers publichealth a high priority. Belize has publichospitals in every major town and a hostof private doctors countrywide. Thoughnot endemic to Belize, visitors who are 1http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transport_in_Belize 4
  • 5. DOING BUSINESS WITH BELIZE2. THE ECONOMY Unemployment rate: 9.4% (2006)32.1 Structure of the Economy 2.3 Balance of paymentsIn this small, essentially private-enterprise economy tourism is the While bilateral financing, better-than-number one foreign exchange earner expected exports, and foreign directfollowed by exports of marine products, investment are helping to close thecitrus, cane sugar, bananas, and foreign financing gap for the currentgarments. The government’s year, international reserves remain veryexpansionary monetary and fiscal low at less than one month of imports.policies, initiated in September 1998, led Under current policies, the missionto sturdy GDP growth averaging nearly estimates on a preliminary basis that infour percent in 1999-2006. Major 2007 Belize’s net balance of paymentsconcerns continue to be the sizable trade financing needs will reach about 10deficit and unsustainable foreign debt. percent of GDP, and remain highThe government in 2006 announced it thereafter at about six percent of GDPwould seek a restructuring of its during 2008-11 and more than 10sovereign debt and has been negotiating percent during 2012-15. Foreignwith international creditors to find an financing of this magnitude may not beacceptable formula for doing so. A key forthcoming, given Belize’s highshort-term objective remains the external public debt burden; and, even ifreduction of poverty with the help of it could be obtained, its high cost wouldinternational donors.2 worsen the debt dynamics and leave the economy vulnerable to adverse shocks.2.2 Recent Economic Performance At the same time, fully closing such large financing gaps through furtherBelize’s economic performance is highly fiscal and monetary tightening would notsusceptible to external market changes. be feasible without severely disruptingAlthough the economy recorded a economic activity.4growth rate of 4.0 percent in 2006, thisachievement is vulnerable to world 2.4 Overview of Tradecommodity price fluctuations andcontinuation of preferential trading Belize continues to rely heavily onagreements, especially with the United foreign trade, with the United States asStates and the European Union (cane its number-one trading partner. Importssugar) and the United Kingdom in 2005 totaled $518.83 million, while(bananas). total exports were only $212.83 million. 3GDP - real growth rate: 4.0% (2006)GDP - per capita (PPP): $8,400 (2006) https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the- world-factbook/geos/bh.html 2 4https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the- http://www.imf.org/external/np/ms/2006/082906world-factbook/geos/bh.html .htm 5
  • 6. DOING BUSINESS WITH BELIZEIn 2005, the United States provided 39 (orange, grapefruit, and pineapple),percent of all Belizean imports and sugar cane, animal feeds and toiletaccounted for 52.2 percent of Belize’s paper. The top imports included chickentotal exports. Other major trading sausages, malt extract, rum and tafia,partners include the United Kingdom, paints, insecticides, plywood, babyEuropean Union, Canada, Mexico, and napkins, aluminium doors, plasticCaribbean Common Market insulated copper conductors, printed 5(CARICOM) member states. paper and paper boards and personal and household effects.2.4.1 ExportsExports (2005)--US$212.83 million:cane sugar, clothing, citrus concentrate,lobster, fish, banana, and farmed shrimp.Major markets--U.S. (52.2%), U.K.,CARICOM2.4.2 ImportsTraditionally, Belize has been aconsumer nation, relying heavily onimports.Imports (2005)--US$518.83 million:food, consumer goods, machinery,mineral fuels and lubricants. Majorsuppliers--U.S. (39%), Mexico, U.K 62.5 Belize’s Trade with CARICOMIn 2006, Belize’s imports were in excessof EC$36 million while exports toCARICOM were EC$62 million leadingto a trade surplus of EC$26 million.Belize’s top exports to CARICOM in2006 included; shrimp, prawns, lobster,blackeye peas, red kidney beans, juices 5http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/1955.htm 6http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/1955.htm 6
  • 7. DOING BUSINESS WITH BELIZE3. GENERAL including Best Western in the hospitality MARKETING FACTORS industry, Coca-Cola and Pepsi in the soft drink industry, Mail Boxes Etc. in the3.1 Distribution and Sales Channels postal service, and Avis, Budget, Hertz and National in the auto rental business. 8A typical distribution channel for anAmerican-made product involves (1) thelocal importer, who is generally also the 3.4 Promotionwholesaler and the distributor, (2) theretailer, and finally (3) the Belize enacted electronic transactionsbuyer/consumer. legislation in 2003, which allows businesspeople to employ e-commerceGoods imported from North America, to conduct across-the-borderthe Caribbean and Europe enter the transactions.country through the port in Belize City,while those imported from neighboring Advertising in Belize is done mainlyCentral American countries enter Belize through radio, newspapers, magazines,through the two main inland borders. and television, and billboards.3.2 Use of Agents/Distributors 3.5 TransportationConsistent with U.S. Department of Ports in Belize City, Dangriga, and BigCommerce guidelines, the Economic and Creek handle regularly scheduledCommercial section of the United States shipping from the United States and theEmbassy in Belize can assist interested United Kingdom, although draft isAmerican companies find agents and limited to a maximum of 10 feet indistributors in the country through the Belize City and 15 feet in southern ports.International Partner Search (IPS) American Airlines, Continental Airlines,service7 U.S. Air, Delta Airlines, and TACA provide international air service to3.3 Franchising gateways in Dallas, Houston, Miami, Charlotte, Atlanta, and San Salvador. 9Although many Belizeans are familiarwith most popular U.S. brand names, Belize has four major asphalt-pavedfranchising remains rare, since two-lane roads: the Hummingbirdcompetition in the local market is more Highway, Southern Highway, Westernoften based on price than name Highway, Northern Highway. Therecognition or perceived quality remaining roads are unpaved, rough andstandards. in poor condition. A 9-mile stretch of the Southern Highway near Big Falls isFranchising in Belize currently extendsto just a few well-known brand names, 8 Doing Business in Belize: A Country Commercial Guide for U.S. Companies, 2006. 9 7 Doing Business in Belize: A Country http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/1955.htmCommercial Guide for U.S. Companies, 2006. 7
  • 8. DOING BUSINESS WITH BELIZEunpaved as well. Driving is on the right-hand side of the road, as in the UnitedStates. 8
  • 9. DOING BUSINESS WITH BELIZE4. MARKET ACCESS CONDITIONS The rate of duty applicable to Motor Vehicles is according to the engine4.1 Customs Tariffs capacity in Motor Cars; according to the weight for Pickup and Trucks, andCustom Duties are applicable according according to the seating capacity in Vansto the rates set out in the Customs Tariff and Busses for Public Transport.and Trade Classification, Chapter 48Laws of Belize, First Schedule. The Imports from CARICOM Countries areBelize Customs Tariff is modeled from exempted from the payment of importthe Harmonized Description and Coding duty provided the importer produces aSystem (HS). Certificate of Origin from the country within the Common Market certifyingThe rates are applied based on the that the goods were produced within theCustoms Value (Cost, Insurance, region of the common market. SomeFreight). Applicable rates range from 0 commodities imported from CARICOMto 45 percent with the majority of pay Revenue Replacement Duty (RRD).commodities attracting a rate of 20 There are restrictions for certainpercent. commodities imported from CARICOM that require an Import License fromGoods in Primary Forms, Machinery and Ministry of Trade prior to importation. 10Parts, Raw Materials, Textile Fabric,Chemicals, Office Equipment (except There are some items that attract aComputers and Accessories – 0 percent) Revenue Replacement Duty (RRD)Hand Tools, attract rates of 0 or 5 ranging from 5 to 40 percent based onpercent based on the customs value. the aggregate of the Customs Value and the Import Duties.Customs duties and taxes are collectedbased on the value which is derived from Sales Tax is charged at a rate of 9the value stated on the invoice, receipt or percent based on the aggregate of theother proof of purchase. The dollar value customs value and any other relativemust be converted from the foreign duty (Import Duty and RRD ifcurrency stated on the proof of purchase applicable) and 14 percent on Alcoholicdocument to Belize (BZCY) currency. Beverages (including Beer), Petroleum,The Belize currency is tied to the US Tobacco and Tobacco Products, largedollar at $2.0175 BZCY to $1.00USD. fans, Air Conditioners, Yachts,Other foreign currency rates are subject Jewellery, Perfumery, Cosmetics,to change and are updated weekly in Vehicles over four cylinders, Stoves andconjunction with the Central Bank of refrigerators over 15 Cu. ft.. SomeBelize. commodities are exempted from the payment of sales tax at the time ofAn exchange rate for the conversion of importation.foreign currency to BZD is publishedweekly for the convenience of importers 10and customs brokers. http://www.customs.gov.bz/duty.html 9
  • 10. DOING BUSINESS WITH BELIZE4.2 Free Trade Agreements 4.3 Non-Tariff BarriersBelize has double tax treaties with theUnited Kingdom, Sweden, Denmark and The importation of some live animals,the countries of the Caribbean foodstuff, plant and plant materials, andCommunity (CARICOM). veterinary vaccines requires an import permit from the Ministry of AgricultureIn October, 2003, the Prime Minister of and is subjected to inspection at the timeBelize, Said Musa announced a five year of importation by Quarantine Inspectors.economic cooperation agreement with Import permits are required for certainTaiwan that will help develop and foodstuffs, live animals, plant and plantfinance basic public services within the materials, and veterinary vaccines fromCentral American jurisdiction. the Belize Agricultural Health Authority (BAHA) (http://www.baha.bz/) and theIn June 2005, Belize and Guatemala Ministry of Commerce and Industry.extended talks on a possible PartialScope Trade Agreement (PSA). BAHA also requires phyto-sanitary andProposals on market access were cited as zoo-sanitary certificates, health riskthe primary reason for the decision to analysis documentation, and certificatesconvene a fourth round of talks. These of origin.negotiations included the loweringexisting tariff and non-tariff barriers, a Importers are required to submit also allmove intended to enhance bilateral trade. original commercial invoices to theProvisions for the removal of non-tariff Customs Department.barriers were also included in theagreement. The trade pact is also In order to protect certain domesticexpected to provide an investment industries, the government maintains apromotion and protection framework. list of 27 categories of products thatGuatemala has also proposed measures require import licenses. This list includesconcerning financial services and mostly consumer goods, such as flour,tourism. rice, beans, dry pasta products, aerated beverages and beer. 12Belize has preferential market access formany products to Europe, Canada, USAand the Caribbean: 4.4 Import DocumentationEurope under LOME IVCANADA under CARIBCANUSA under CBI II Information on all shipping documentsCaribbean under CARICOM 11 must be in metric units. For all shipments the following are required: 11 12http://www.lowtax.net/lowtax/html/jbzcfir.html Doing Business In Belize: A Country Commercial Guide for U.S. Companies, 2006. 10
  • 11. DOING BUSINESS WITH BELIZECommercial invoice: Five most plants and plant products,copies are required. Chamber of including wrappings andcommerce certification and packaging used in connectionconsular legalization are not with such living plants.required.Certificate of origin: Requiredfor goods claiming CARICOM 4.5 Labelling and Markingpreferential treatment. Five Requirementscopies of the Certificate ofOrigin are required. The The Belize Bureau of Standards hasCertificate of Origin must be standard requirements for labeling andcertified by a designated agency marking of locally manufactured andin the country of exportation. imported products sold in Belize.Proforma invoice: Not The standard requires that the labelnecessarily required. May be affixed to a product shall give detailedrequested by importer when information on the good, such as theapplying for an import licence. ingredients used and nutritional facts.Bill of lading: This is required, 4.6 Sanitary and Phytosanitaryhowever, there are no regulations (SPS) Measuresspecifying the form or number ofbills of lading required for any The Food Safety Department has aparticular shipment. The airway mandate to monitor, evaluate and takebill replaces the bill of lading on action on any matters that may have aair cargo shipments. direct or indirect effect on the safety of the food supply. This is done not onlyPhytosanitary certificate: This for the export market, but for localcertificate is required on all consumption as well. Providing safe,shipments of fresh fruits and wholesome and nutritious food is alsovegetables, meats and plants and regarded as a requirement under theplanting materials. World Trade Organisation (WTO) agreement, to which Belize is aHealth certificate: Required for signatory.imports of live animals. Thecertificate must state that the To carry out this increasingly importantanimal is free from disease and role, the Food Safety Department ismust provide proof of origin. active in the following areas:Plant health certificate: Import A team of Food Safety Inspectorspermits or certificates of performs sanitary inspections of theintroduction (to be obtained in various food-processing plants as well asadvance by the importer from the on certain food products imported intoMinistry of Agriculture, Belize Belize. The Inspectors are continuouslyCity) usually are required for 11
  • 12. DOING BUSINESS WITH BELIZEtrained in the latest inspection and confidence as well as to keep abreast ofsanitary auditing techniques, so as to be international developments in the field.able to respond to any new methods offood processing applied by industry, and CIL is offering a wide range ofto the ever changing conditions Laboratory Services at regionallyencountered in food preparation and competitive prices.processing environment that may havean impact on food safety. The BAHA Act of 1999 (Chapter 211 of the Laws of Belize) gave provision forInvestigations into food borne diseases the establishment of the Food Safetyand outbreaks have been very basic in Department to effectively put in placeBelize thus far. The staff of the Food the necessary regulations and controls,Safety Department has been upgrading allowing BAHA to deal with the issuesits capacity for carrying out such where food affect human health. Theinvestigations and a structured legislation is being reviewed and revisedprogramme has been put in place to start (January 2006) to reflect new regulatoryappropriate monitoring, evaluation and developments (such as traceabilityresponse to food borne diseases. requirements) in the global demand for food safety. Regulations dealing with theThe food safety department applies the import and export of food items areprinciples of Risk Analysis when called being implemented by BAHAsto evaluate the risks arising from hazards programmes, such as Import Permits and(or potential hazards) in foods to ensure Certification Programmes.that the various food exporting andimporting establishments comply with The Food Safety Department has beencurrent internationally accepted rules taking on the role of educator in issuesand regulations for the safe handling of of food safety. This is done not only forfood. In collaboration with the SPS Unit, food processors but also forcompanies may request a Risk Analysis policymakers, technical officers andto be conducted by a BAHA-team in consumers. A public that is educated inorder to be able to import certain food issues surrounding food safety is the keyitems into Belize. to the implementation of safe food safety practices. A BAHA multi-disciplinaryBAHA has accelerated the upgrading of team will always be ready to promotethe Central Investigation Laboratory food safety education in your(CIL) of the Food Safety Department by establishment: from the basics of foodpurchasing state-of-the-art equipment safety to the latest on food safetyand providing high-quality training for technology.the staff to enable them to use thisequipment competently, professionally Laison/International Collaborationand with optimum efficiency. TheLaboratory is enrolled in several The food safety department activelyproficiency testing and quality assurance pursues collaborative work and liaisonsprograms to ensure testing excellence with its international partners involvedand gain industry and consumer in food safety. By seeking out and collaborating with those international 12
  • 13. DOING BUSINESS WITH BELIZEorganizations that have a similar focus, access to the market place of goods thatBAHA can dovetail their work are likely to be a danger to the health orprogramme to complement what food safety of consumers.safety programmes or tasks need to bedone in the country with less duplication 4.9 Product Certificationof roles and effect conservation of scarcefinancial resources. Many of the food A certification programme, based on thesafety programmes and plan of work implementation of the Hazard Analysisestablished by BAHA has been and Critical Control Points (HACCP)augmented and supported by food safety system was established forinternational organizations (e.g. FAO, the fish and fishery products processingWHO/PAHO, OIRSA, IICA) having the industry in Belize which enabled Belizesame focus and wanting to achieve to export these products freely to bothsimilar goals. Partnering with these the USA and the European Union (EU).agencies avoids duplication and The farm to table approach of BAHA’sstrengthens collaborative efforts in food food safety program, provides for foodsafety. 13 safety assurances along the entire chain, from the production site on the farm4.7 Prohibited and Restricted with the application of GoodImports Agricultural Practices (GAP), to the processing plants’ implementation ofCertain goods are generally not allowed Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP),into Belize unless they originate from Standard Sanitary Operating Proceduresanother CARICOM member state. (SSOP) and HACCP systems that is verified and certified by BAHA’sThe list includes peanut butter, jam, inspectors and sanitary auditors. Otherjellies, matches, pasta, beans, rice, wheat certification programmes, such as oneflour, and pepper sauce. for meat processing plants and one for fruit and vegetable packing plants areBeans and rice, however, like many currently being developed inother locally produced agricultural collaboration with industry and otherproducts, may not be imported at all regulatory agencies. 14whenever there is a surplus of theseproducts on the domestic market.4.8 StandardsThe Belize Bureau of Standards (BBS)prepares and promotes standards inrelation to goods, services and processes.As such, the BBS monitors compulsorystandards with the aim of preventing the 13 14 http://www.baha.bz/food_safety.html http://www.baha.bz/food_safety.html 13
  • 14. DOING BUSINESS WITH BELIZE5. INVESTMENT PROFILE FISCAL INCENTIVES ACT 1990 The Fiscal Incentives Act (No.6) offers5.1 Investment Incentives Schemes tax holidays and duty exemptions.Belize’s investment policy is codified in Tax holidays are normally offered for 5the Belize Investment Guide, which sets years, extensible for up to a further 10out the development priorities for the years; but in the case of agriculturalcountry. In spite of the establishment of investment may be for up to 25 years.the Belize Trade and Investment However, there is a provision that theDevelopment Service (BELTRAIDE) to Minister for Economic Development, onserve as a one-stop shop for export and application made by the company in a fitinvestment assistance, bureaucratic red and proper case, can review thetape may still be encountered when company’s operations and renew the tax-seeking government fiscal incentives. holiday period for a further term notBELTRAIDE continues to encourage exceeding ten years.investment in the following sectors ofthe economy: Duty exemptions are offered to every company which has been granted an• Agriculture, agro-industries, food Approved Enterprise Order processing and livestock. (Development Concession) to import• Tourism and tourism-related into Belize, free of import duty, and industries. revenue replacement duty, a wide range• Aquaculture and horticulture. of industrial machinery, construction materials and raw materials. Exemption• Light-manufacturing industries and is normally given for 15 years, with a offshore assembly plants, and 10-year extension. 16• Forestry and forestry-based industries. 15 5.2 Foreign Investment RegimeInvestment incentives are contained in The Government of Belize lists thethe following legislation: following criteria according to which it judges foreign investment:• Fiscal Incentive Act, No. 6 of 1990;• International Business and Public • creates employment opportunities; Investment Companies (IBC) Act • makes maximum use of indigenous 1990; raw materials;• Mines and Mineral Act 1988; • earns foreign exchange;• Export Processing Zone (EPZ) ACt • results in increased production; 1990; • introduces state-of-the-art• Commercial Free Zone (CFZ) Act technology; 1994. • enhances local management skills; 15 16http://www.state.gov/e/eeb/ifd/2007/80680.htm http://www.lowtax.net/lowtax/html/jbzcfir.html 14
  • 15. DOING BUSINESS WITH BELIZE• promotes greater efficiency through Income tax is charged at between 2 and competition; 8 percent on Free Zone businesses, but• diversifies the economic base; these rates can be reduced by up to two• facilitates access to foreign markets; percent through tax credits earned by the• is environmentally friendly. employment of Belizean workers. 18Longer term incentives are offered for 5.3.2 Export Processing Zones (EPZ)the location of industries in the less-developed rural areas of the country and Three locations have been designated asfor export-oriented projects or projects EPZs under the Export Processing Zoneutilizing technology not previously Act. The San Andres EPZ occupies 28.5introduced into Belize. The government acres of land in the northern section ofprefers joint venture and partnership the country, only 8 miles away from theinvestments, but does permit one Mexican border, right next door tohundred percent foreign ownership of an NAFTA. The other two Zones are bothenterprise. 17 located approximately 9 miles from Belize City, the countrys commercial capital. The EPZ adjacent to the Philip5.3 Free Trade Zones Goldson International Airport covers four acres, while the Price Barracks EPZ5.3.1 The Commercial Free Zone covers 14 acres.The Commercial Free Zone Act 1994 In the EPZ, facilities are provided forestablished a Commercial Free Zone at activities in manufacturing, processing,Corozal to attract foreign investment. packaging, warehousing and theThe Zone provides facilities for various distribution of goods and services. Inactivities including manufacturing, fact, amendments made to the legislationprocessing, packaging, warehousing and in 1994 provide investors with the addeddistribution of goods and services. option of constructing their own facilities and developing infrastructureBusinesses established in the Free Zone within an EPZ, including independentare free of foreign exchange restrictions utility installations. This option enablesand receive a range of other benefits an EPZ to enhance its economicincluding duty exemptions and tax development, since it does notholidays. necessarily have to use the electricity or telephone facilities provided by the twoGoods and supplies entering and leaving local monopolies, The Belize Electricitythe Free Zone for commercial purposes Limited and The Belizeare exempt from import or export duties, Telecommunications Limitedquotas, stamp duties and revenue respectively.replacement duties. 17 18http://www.lowtax.net/lowtax/html/jbzcfir.html http://www.lowtax.net/lowtax/html/jbzcfir.html 15
  • 16. DOING BUSINESS WITH BELIZEWhile new applications have beenapproved for ICT companies, thegovernment continues to streamline theEPZ programme. In 2006, only eightnew EPZ companies were approved,bringing the total number of EPZcompanies operating in Belize at the endof 2006 to 73. 1920 19http://www.lowtax.net/lowtax/html/jbzcfir.html 20http://www.lowtax.net/lowtax/html/jbz2tax.html 16
  • 17. DOING BUSINESS WITH BELIZE6. ESTABLISHMENT OF 6.2 Establishing an OfficeBUSINESSES The following is taken from the laws of6.1 Right to Private Ownership Belize, Chapter 206, Part IX. It applies to foreign companies wishing toThe Constitution of Belize protects the establish an office in Belize.right to private property. Chapter II,Article (3a) guarantees “protection from 1) Overseas companies that establish aarbitrary deprivation of property.” place of business within Belize shall,Among other documents, records of within one month of thecompanies and real estate mortgages are establishment of the place ofkept in the government’s general registry business, deliver the following to theoffice. Registrar for registration: a) A certified copy of the charter,Also, foreigners must obtain approval statutes or memorandum andfrom the Minister of Natural Resources articles of the company or otherin order to purchase or hold land in instrument constituting orexcess of half an acre for urban areas or defining the constitution of thein excess of ten acres for rural areas. company, and if the instrument is not written in the EnglishThere are controls on land ownership by language, a certified translationforeigners in excess of 0.5 acre in a town thereof;or 10 acres in the country. The Minister b) A list of the directors andof Natural Resources issues licenses if a secretary of the companysatisfactory development plan is containing the particulars;presented or is in existence. If a property c) The names and addresses ofis being sub-divided for sale, a someone or more personssubdivision permit must be obtained resident in Belize authorized tofrom the Minister of Natural Resources. accept on behalf of the companyLand can be leased from the service of process and anyGovernment of Belize with an option to notices required to be served onbuy if the planned development the company.indicated at the time of the application is 2) Every overseas company shall, incarried out. Land in general has a (one every calendar year, file with thepercent) tax on the unimproved value of Registrar such a statement in thethe land. The cost for transfer of title to form of a balance sheet as would, ifreal property is 10 percent of value for it were a company incorporated inStamp Duty (usually shared between Belize and having a share capital, bebuyer and seller) and a token fee for required to be included in the annualregistration. Attorney fees are additional. summary.21 3) Every overseas company shall do the following: a) In every prospectus inviting 21 subscriptions for its shares orhttp://www.lowtax.net/lowtax/html/jbzcfir.html debentures in Belize, state the 17
  • 18. DOING BUSINESS WITH BELIZE country in which the company is size pictures endorsed by the applicant incorporated; must accompany the application. b) Conspicuously exhibit on every place where it carries on business In the case of an investor a present in Belize the name of the passport, three passport size pictures, company and the country in and substantive proof of ability to which the company is sustain him/herself without infringing on incorporated; the countrys limited economic c) Cause the name of the company resources. Bank statements or other and of the country in which it is proof of financial independence are also incorporated to be stated in required. legible characters in all bill heads and letter paper, and in all The ‘life’ of a work permit ranges from notices and other official three months to one year and is subject publications of the company; and to renewal. 23 d) If the liability of the members of the company is limited, cause 6.4 Intellectual Property Rights notice of that fact to be stated in legible characters in every such In 2003, Belize signed up to an prospectus as aforesaid and in all agreement on intellectual property bill heads, letter paper, notices development. According to the World and other official publications of Intellectual Property Organization the company in Belize, and to be (WIPO): "The agreement establishes the affixed on every place where it terms of a project that is designed to carries on business. support a more effective integration of the region into the global economy byIn addition, foreign companies are fostering technological innovation,required to pay a registration fee of creativity and competitiveness throughBZ$84 ($42) at the office of the intensive and effective mobilization andRegistrar General in the Supreme Court use of intellectual property."Building in Belize City. 22 Belize has fulfilled its obligation under6.3 Work Permit Requirements the World Trade Organization (WTO) to implement the Agreement on Trade-The application process takes Related Aspects of Intellectual Propertyapproximately three weeks. Although (the TRIPS Agreement). The Belizethe Ministry of Labour processes and Intellectual Property Office (BELIPO)approves the issuing of work permits, was subsequently established tothe permit is issued by the Immigration administer these IPR laws, whichDepartment - the fee can range anywhere include copyrights, industrial designs,from $100.00 to $750.00 depending on patents, trademarks, protection of newthe level of skill. Two recent passport plant varieties, and protection of layout – 23 22 Doing Business in Belize: A Country http://www.lowtax.net/lowtax/html/jbzlab.htmlCommercial Guide for U.S. Companies, 2006. 18
  • 19. DOING BUSINESS WITH BELIZEdesigns (topographies) of integrated Belize to facilitate the repatriation ofcircuits. profits, dividends, etc.Belize is a party to the Paris Convention The Government of Belize allowsfor the Protection of Industrial Property companies with proper documentation toand of Literary and Artistic Works and go directly to the commercial banks tothe Patent Copyright Treaty. However, request foreign exchange. However,Belize has ratified neither the WIPO much to the aggravation of foreignCopyright Treaty (WCT) nor the WIPO investors (and local importers alike),Performances and Phonograms Treaty there are occasional shortages of foreign(WCCT). exchange in the commercial banks, which result in some delays in paymentsUnder Belize’s Copyright and for current international transactions.Trademarks Laws, the onus to institutelegal action against violators of Transfer or sale of land in excess of 10intellectual property rights lies upon the acres to or from non-Belizeans requiresholder of the copyright and trademark, the approval of the Minister of Naturaland not upon local law enforcement Resources, but this is usually not anofficials. obstacle. 25In April 2007, Chief Justice of Belize,Abdulai Conteh, and the President of theCentral American Court of Justice, DrRicardo Acevedo Peralta, signed aCooperation Agreement between theSupreme Court of Belize and the CentralAmerican Court of Justice. Thegovernment of Belize has said that thepurpose of the Agreement is toinstitutionalize inter-jurisdictionalrelations, develop juridical integrationprocesses in the region and foster widercooperation. 246.5 Conversion and Transfer PoliciesAccording to the Belize Trade andInvestment Development Service(BELTRAIDE), foreign investors arerequired to register any investmentsmade in Belize with the Central Bank of 24 25http://www.state.gov/e/eeb/ifd/2007/80680.htm http://www.state.gov/e/eeb/ifd/2007/80680.htm 19
  • 20. DOING BUSINESS WITH BELIZE7. CULTURAL obtaining a visa. Belize allows visitors a PRACTICES maximum of one-month stay in the country before they require an extension. 277.1 Business CustomsThere is a favorable business The Philip Goldson International Airportenvironment, with few regulatory is 2 hours’ flying time (daily flights)restrictions and minimum of red tape. from Miami, New Orleans or Houston.Government hours are from 8 am to 12 There are reliable shipping and air cargonoon and 1 pm to 5 pm Monday to services to and from Europe, UnitedFriday. Belize Telecommunications States of America, Central America andLimited provides telephone the Caribbean. The departure tax at thecommunication between Belize and the International Airport has is US$20 perUnited States and Canada. Direct dial person. There is a Tourist Departure Taxservice is available worldwide. The of US$10 per person when departingBelize telephone system is one of the Belize at either of the land borderbest in the region, with a modern fibre- crossings.optics network. Cellular and pagingservices are available. International calls Departing the country through landare expensive. Direct Internet access is borders requires payment of the landavailable from Belize border exit fee of US$18.75 per person.Telecommunications, Ltd. A portion of the departure tax goesMail service is generally reliable. Letters toward the protection and preservation(US$30 cents for a one-half ounce of the environment. Due to the countrysairmail letter) to the US from Belize City effort to effectively manage theirtake about a week, longer from more abundant protected areas, visitors areremote areas. Belize is a very informal asked to pay a conservation exit fee atcountry, with a casual life-style. Formal any of the exit or entry points. Theattire is seldom necessary. 26 proceeds from this fee goes to the Protected Areas Conservation Trust (PACT), which is then distributed and7.2 Entry/Exit Requirements: used to sustain the protected areas in Belize.All travelers entering the country musthave a valid passport (valid for up to six There is a standard nine percent hotel taxmonths after visit) and a proof of return that is added to your hotel bill (7 percentto their country. No visas are required until April 1, 2005). In some of the morefor citizens of the United States, United exclusive resorts and hotels, a serviceKingdom and the majority of Caribbean charge of about 10 percent is charged toIslands. Visitors from other countries your hotel bills (restaurant, bar andmust check for information about room), while in other locations, tipping 26 27http://www.lowtax.net/lowtax/html/jbzcfir.html http://www.belize.gov.bz/weather_travel.html 20
  • 21. DOING BUSINESS WITH BELIZEis optional. A nine percent sales tax isalso attached to most goods and servicesin the country. 28 28http://www.belize.gov.bz/weather_travel.html 21