Inaugural Meeting-Belize/Guatemala Administrative Commission
Wednesday, March 5th, 2014
The inaugural meeting of the Belize-Guatemala Administrative Commission was convened last Friday 28th February, 2014 at the George Price Centre in Belmopan, between a high level delegation of trade and other officials representing the Government of Belize and an official delegation from the Republic of Guatemala.
Mr. Michael Singh, Chief Executive Officer in the Ministry of Trade, Investment Promotion, Private Sector Development and Consumer Protection, welcomed the Guatemalan Delegation Headed by Vice Minister Maria Luisa Flores Villagran. CEO Singh reaffirmed the Government of Belize’s strong interest and commitment to maintaining formal trade relations between Belize and Guatemala with Belize serving as an important conduit for trade with CARICOM. Vice Minister Flores Villagran recognized the importance of establishing the Administrative Commission and reiterated commitments from the Government of Guatemala.
In accordance with the Agreement, an important function of the Administrative Commission will be to supervise the administration and compliance with provisions of the Agreement by both Parties and to recommend suitable measures and mechanisms to facilitate implementation of the Partial Scope Agreement (PSA). The meeting addressed the approval and adoption of the Administrative Rules and Procedures for effective operation of the Commission and activated the Four Technical Committees of the Commission. Both Parties also exchanged information on Points of Contact and Heads of the Technical committees. These include the Committee on Rules of Origin, Committee on Sanitary and Phyto-Sanitary Measures, Committee on Technical Barriers to Trade, and the Committee on Land Transportation. A proposal was for the establishment of a new technical body to assist the Commission in the implementation of the Agreement was also tabled. The Terms of Reference of this Technical body will be developed for future discussion by The Commission.
The Belize delegation used the opportunity to inform their trading counterpart of some of the current cross border issues between the two countries. Technical presentations were made by Customs and Excise Department and the Belize Agricultural Health Authority (BAHA) which addressed existing trading issues for exporters, including currency exchange, application of Customs procedures, and the application of outdated tariff codes, mutual recognition of food and health safety measures and procedures for the registration of agricultural products.
The Guatemalan Delegation expressed its confidence in the work of the Commission to provide support to overcome current obstacles and challenges.
In conclusion, both Parties were committed to addressing issues of concern and advancing trade relations between the two countries, and to take the necessary steps towards implementation to the Belize/Guatemala Partial Scope Agreement.
Courtesies were exchanged and the meeting ended at 3:00pm.