Some have questioned why Belize had no representation at a regional summit between business leaders of CARICOM and Central America in Guatemala and wondered whether we have been left behind as the fabled link between the two. CEO in the Ministry of Trade Mike Singh and the Prime Minister sought to reassure the public that this was not so. Singh sought to clarify what each meeting sought to achieve.
Mike Singh – CEO Ministry of Trade:
The other meeting was really a similar type meeting. there were investors from all over Central America. The other meeting that the Minister was at, he met with some of the major business leaders in Central America, to talk about Central American investment in general. At that meeting similarly they talked about many issues. The difference between the two meetings is that one meeting was actually Guatemala’s investment development meeting, which was working at trying to speak to investors about investing directly in Guatemala. The second meting was a meeting between some members of CARICOM, along with some members of SICA, to discuss cooperation between the regions. Now we’ve had many such meetings. This is only one of many. I have personally attended many meetings under the designation of Belize as a bridge. As a matter of fact, the meeting I was at in Tortola, I had a meeting with Caribbean Export to discuss the funding of a project to develop a regional trade enabling center in Belize, where CARICOM will use Belize as a platform for getting into not just Central America, but also Mexico.
While Mr Singh assures that Belize is not out of that conversation, the Prime Minister sought to assure that Belize was moving in even more quickly than either region to map out direct agreements with Central American countries.
Prime Minister Dean Barrow:
At the Costa Rica session, where SICA heads met with US President Obama, in my intervention I put squarely on the table the fact that in addition to the Bilateral Partial Scope Agreements, that Belize is negotiating with individual SICA countries, and I made a point that in terms of the volumes of trade on our Western border, those have increased exponentially as a consequence of the signing of the agreement with Guatemala. Colleague heads in SICA should recognize that Belize is the portal through which SICA could access the CARICOM market. So at the highest level I underline, give special emphasis, to this portal or bridge concept. Now if SICA and CARICOM are talking directly, perhaps it is a pity Belize was there. I do want to make clear though, taht we are loking to move beyond the issue of talking to individual SICA copuntries and concluding Bilaterals with them. Negotiations have started for Belize to join the trading arrangements of SICA, but in a way that would give special consideration to our circumstances as a smaller economy that’s particu;arly vunerable.