BRIDGETOWN, Barbados – Speaking at the launch of Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) trade programme in Belize, set to benefit Belize’s farmers, exporters, manufacturers and business community, president of CDB, Dr Gene Leon, expressed a renewed commitment to serving the development needs in Belize with a focus on the trading environment. As one of its Borrowing Member Countries, the bank recognises that increasing trade and the creating an enabling environment, will add much-needed fuel to the growth engine driving Belize’s development. The multi-pronged intervention will advance national and global agendas focused on improving the lives of citizens.
“CDB, as the second-largest contributor to the Government of Belize’s current suite of development-related projects, has clearly signalled our intent to sustain and increasingly collaborate with the Government and development partners to attain key social, economic, environmental, and institutional targets,” says president of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) Dr Leon.
Noting the urgency of an economic revitalisation in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and the role of trade in this rebound, Belize’s minister of foreign affairs, foreign trade and immigration, Eamon Courtenay stated that: “Government’s role as enabler of the kind of environment conducive to investment and growth has never been more critical.” The State, he shared, had accelerated its efforts in partnership with the private sector, to expand existing markets, open new ones, and revisit current market opportunities through keener eyes.
The bank, with the new US$1.5 million programme, will support four projects implemented by private and public sector agencies, namely the Customs and Excise Department, the Belize Agricultural Health Authority, the Toledo Cacao Growers Association (TCGA) and the Belize Bureau of Standards (BBS). They are the Enhancing the Capacity of the government of Belize to Facilitate Trade Project; the Development of a Risk-based Sanitary and Phyto-Sanitary Import and Export Control System for Belize Project; the increasing participation of the Belizean Cacao Industry in the Cocoa-Chocolate Global Value Chain Project and the Enhancing the Belize National Quality Infrastructure Project.
Through this suite of initiatives Belize will be on its way to identifying and clearing bottlenecks at its ports and embracing new technology to increase efficiency in public departments facilitating trade and export. Additionally, through the TCGA executed project, indigenous small-scale farmers in Southern Belize will be provided with training and resources to increase revenues and quality of their cocoa and chocolate manufacturing inputs with the construction of a processing facility, pursuit of organic certification and marketing support for their products. Further, the Belize Bureau of Standards under this initiative will offer greater local services to the business community at its metrology lab, making production more cost-effective and aligned with global benchmarks.
The European Union, a strategic partner whose funding is supporting the projects at BBS and TCGA, conveyed its pleasure at partnering with the government of Belize and CDB to impact competitiveness, trade opportunities and also enhance capacity in the business sector. CARICOM which also collaborates with CDB on the EPA and CSME Standby Facility, expressed earnest anticipation for the far-reaching initiative which supports Belize’s trade agenda.
The Standby Facility is a EUR8.75 million resource managed by CDB, which offers opportunities to 15 Caribbean economies to grow trade, deepen integration and economic involvement; and impact competitiveness, market access, and exports by implementing targeted projects in thematic areas.