Is Belize business-friendly? (Example country brief)

If you have ever wondered what Belize is like to do business in, you have come to the right place.

In this article we will answer this question and provide a basic summary about Belize, which was written during a Masters-levels report about Belize.

Is Belize business-friendly?
Belize is ranked 135 on the
World Bank’s business-friendly index. For comparison, New Zealand is ranked 1 and Somalia is ranked 190. Belize officials have been working to improve their position by making trade alliances with many countries and improving tourism and investment opportunities.

Below is a brief summary about Belize. This is a helpful, sample framework you can use to give yourself a high-level understanding about Belize specifically, or any country that is on your International marketing radar, before you go deeper into the culture and developing an International marketing plan

This “Country brief” was written as part of a Masters-level review several years ago, but the core message has not changed much. 

For the most current data and trade numbers about Belize, feel free to follow the links used as references. All the links are high quality, reputable and helpful resources which you should use when researching the countries on your International marketing and International expansion list.

Belize Country Brief 

Is Belize a business-friendly country that can help you reach your International Marketing goals?

Belize is a Latin American country boasting a rich Mayan history, until their decline in the first millennium A.D.  

Formerly known as British Honduras, the UK and Guatemala fought for control until Belize gained independence in 1981, even with Guatemala still waging border disputes. 

Located on the Caribbean Sea, their Northern border touches Mexico and their western border faces Guatemala. With a total area mass of 22,966 sq kilometers, Belize is about the size of Massachusetts and is the only country in Central America without a coastline on the North Pacific Ocean.

Featuring a population of just 353,858 in 2016, 55% of the country is 24 years of age or younger. With 62% of the country speaking English as the country’s official language, the GDP official exchange rate for 2016 was $1.77 billion. 

The GDP per capita was $8,200 in 2016, contributing to a huge disparity between the rich and the poor making this a big initiative for the government. Belize has suffered a decline in GDP once realizing a 4.1% real growth rate in 2014, with a 1% real growth rate in 2015 and a 0% GDP growth rate in 2016. 

The biggest bank in Belize is Belize Bank. One Belize dollar (BZD) is currently worth about $0.50 US dollars.

With strong relations with the US Government and supported by a parliamentary democracy under a monarchy and an English common law legal system, Prime Minister Johnny Briceño overseas the government, while (the late) Queen Elizabeth the II has been the chief of state since 1952. 

Belize does not have a stock market and the US Department of State reports that they, “lack the regulatory framework for the development of one in the near future.”

Belize’s international business engagement profile

CIA.gov reports that Belize’s top income generator is tourism, followed by their best exports being crude oil, marine products, sugar, citrus and bananas, indicative of land and sea being factor abundances.  

Specifically, as defined by the 2014 exports list by MIT.edu:

  • Bananas came in as the top export at 14%, 
  • raw sugar at 12%, 
  • both fruit juice and crustaceans each at 10% and 
  • crude oil at 8.7% of Belize’s top exports. 

Alternatively, refined petroleum leads as Belize’s 2014 top imports, with rolled tobacco at 5.2% and passenger and cargo ships at 5.0%, and fishing ships at 3.7% of their reported $1.25 Billion in imports. 

In 2018, their trade of service exports and service imports were led by Personal Travel at $469 million and Sea Transports at $65 million led their service imports.

United States received 26% of Belize’s 2014 exports in the amount of $131 million consisting of crude petroleum, fruit juice and crustaceans topping the list. 

This is a substantial shift of exports from 2000 exports to the US which were crustaceans, fruit juice and non-active knitwear topping the list to total a somewhat consistent annual 15-year trading value of $122 million. 

On the other hand, the UK gained 19% of Belize’s exports largely consisting of bananas and raw sugar in the amount of $98.8 million in 2014 up from $81.7 million of the same exports in 2010.  

Trading with the US and UK alone make a very substantial 45% of the country’s total exports.  Additionally, the next largest trading partners was Mexico who gained 6.6%, while Jamaica received 3.3% of Belize’s exports.

Topping the most recent 2012 reported list of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) flows is Belgium and Czech Republic, investing $13 million and $1 million respectively. 

Belize’s participation in various regional and multilateral integration agreements

Additionally, Belize has numerous bilateral agreements including Netherlands, Austria, UK, China, Cuba and El Salvador.

Belize’s WTO trading map is here. Currently the WTO reports no trade restrictions on Belize with any trading partner.

Belize's access to the global logistics network

This is the question about the access of a country to the global shipping, airline, and rail routes. Is the country close to other countries of large size (market access) or countries with low cost of labor? 

To get a general idea about the global logistics environment take a look at the selection of news in the WSJ Logistics Report and the World bank Logistics report.

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