The government of Belize is very keen to stimulate investment in the country, not only by local entrepreneurs but also by individual incomers and established foreign businesses. The government even offers incentives for those wishing to retire to Belize to live there permanently.
To encourage such investment the environment for private enterprise in Belize is a very favorable one. The incentives for investment were created by legislation that was introduced in the early years of the 1990Âs. To qualify for the benefits of the legislation there are certain conditions that have to be met. These conditions vary, as do the individual incentives. Import duty exemption and a tax holiday are both available for qualifying applicants.
Inward investment is especially encouraged if it will create jobs and help support the local economy. Any company or an individual entrepreneur that can grow and improve BelizeÂs technological infrastructure is viewed as being particularly welcome.
Partnerships and joint ventures are the favored investment vehicle with the Belizean authorities but one hundred percent foreign ownership is allowed if the business model meets with the approval of the authorities.
If a company decides to establish a business in Belize the government will allow expert foreign personnel to enter and work in the country, however, it is expected that they will be in addition to some Belizean labor. As a rule it is preferred that an employee that has been recruited locally matches each skilled foreign member of staff. It will also be required that relevant training courses for indigenous workers be created.
The Fiscal Incentives Act of 1990 created these tax holidays. They normally run for five years from the date of production. This is flexible upon appeal to the Minister of Economic Development who has the power to extend the tax-free period for a further five years.
Obviously this exemption is not easily come by and the appeal must be well founded. It is more likely to be looked upon favorably if the enterprise is using a lot of local labor, such as in agriculture or related industries.
International Support for the Economy of Belize
Belize also has well-established trade agreements with several developed countries.
- Of particular benefit is the countryÂs access to the Caribbean Common Market (CARICOM).
- The United States also helps the Belize economy under the terms of the Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI).
- Belize also receives special treatment from the European Union under the Lome IV Convention. This avoids duty payments upon import into the EU of BelizeÂs sugar and bananas.
- The Canadian government also allows certain goods from Belize special duty-free import privileges.
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