Saturday, July 13, 2024

Consultation held to discuss the integration of Corozal as tourism and agricultural product supplier


A business consultation hosted by the Ministry of Investment, Trade, and Commerce along with Vivid Economics, a consultancy from the United Kingdom, engaged San Pedro Town stakeholders on Saturday, December 8th. The consultation discussed possible economic strategies to revamp the Corozal Free Zone and improve the integration of the Corozal economy in northern Belize with the rest of the country. Held at the Sunbreeze Hotel conference room, the meeting discussed how to improve tourism services and the possibility of bringing agricultural and free zone goods from Corozal to the island.
The formal gathering saw representatives from the island’s hospitality industry supporting the initiative, and willing to study the possibility of building bridges and trade with the Corozal District. Hosting the round of talks were Carmen Sosa from the Government of Belize (GOB) and Senior Economist Jake Wellman and James Patterson-Waterson from Vivid Economics. The English consultancy has been hired by the Inter-American Bank (IDB), which is supporting this initiative from GOB.
The interactive meeting touched on the benefits of exchanging services with Corozal, compared to the current system whereby all goods to the island come via Belize City. Stakeholders explained that after paying their duties of importation on goods, they still need to transport it to the island. This comes at an additional cost that includes a General Sales Tax of 12.5% to the freight service to San Pedro. Thus, the high cost of items on the island. But if goods could be transported to the island from Corozal, the stakeholders agreed that it would significantly reduce the cost of transportation of goods, resulting in lower prices for the consumer. The project also expects Corozal to become the main supplier of agricultural products to San Pedro in the future, building a mutual relationship with La Isla Bonita that will see economic developments in the northern district and more localized and economic products arriving on the island.
Wellman deemed the consultation especially helpful toward the study they have been conducting since September of this year. In those past months, they have analyzed economic data around trade and investment activities in the Corozal District. “Some of the key opportunities that have started to come up are activities in tourism and agriculture,” said Wellman. “Many tourists come to San Pedro, and we want to explore how certain products and offerings in tourism from Corozal might link with what is currently happening in San Pedro.” The idea is to have visitors also explore the different attractions in Corozal, and while enjoying these, they can also visit the Free Zone where they can purchase Belizean products.
The result of the consultations will be compiled into a regional economic development master plan that will be submitted to the IDB. The IDB will then work together with GOB to set up a dissemination process in March and to possibly put the plan into action.

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