Thursday, July 25, 2024

Belize: Endless Opportunities! San Pedro hosts the Belize Investment Summit


Prime Minister Honourable Dr. John Briceño officially opened the second edition of the Belize Investment Summit on Thursday, August 31st, at the Grand Caribe Resort north of San Pedro Town. The summit, held under the theme ‘Belize: Endless Opportunities!’ is organized to attract local and foreign investment to the country. One of the main topics highlighted at the summit’s opening is the importance of exploring other aspects to build the economy, one of these being the Orange Economy, explained by special guest and keynote speaker former Colombian President Ivan Duque Marquez.
The formalities of the summit started after 9AM with the welcome address delivered by San Pedro’s Mayor Gualberto’ Wally’ Nuñez. He welcomed the hundreds of attendees to La Isla Bonita and Belize. He took them back to the early days of an island village relying on coconut crops and fisheries to now a tourism mecca in 2023. “Here you will find major hotel investments coupled with highly trained tourism service providers,” said Nuñez. “Here, you will have fisheries extraction that abides by the seasonal laws for their protection and yet interconnected with the culinary experiences of our islanders and visitors.” Nuñez told the audience that the island’s stakeholders work with environmental agencies in education and awareness campaigns. The Mayor stated that the island supports a labor force composed of islanders and persons from across the country, responsibly using the natural resources to benefit future generations. “The opportunity is there for us to pursue responsibly. We are located in a unique geographical location sharing a heritage with both the Caribbean and Latin America, which is a bridge to advancement in education, cultural and creative industries,” Mayor Nuñez noted as he encouraged potential investors to consider becoming one with Belize and its development.
Prime Minister Briceño then officially opened the second edition of the Belize Investment Summit. He told the crowd about the unique location of San Pedro, flanked by the second-longest barrier reef in the world, and the abundance of marine life and resources around the island. Briceño elaborated that the reason for a second summit was due to the results of the first one in 2021. “It was very positive and post-evaluation and addressing concerns from foreign and local investors, we were able to lead forward with significant accomplishments,” Briceño said. “I am happy to report that the new Fiscal Incentive Act 2023 is now a law. This law provides economic incentives for micro, small, and medium enterprises. The number of approved activities that beneficiaries can access has increased significantly. In parallel, we have been working with designated processing areas through consultations to ensure that current and future beneficiaries’ concerns are addressed before submission to the National Assembly for consideration,” Briceño said. The prime minister said that his government is working hard to continue offering an investor-friendly environment conducive to doing business in Belize. He added that the summit also serves as an opportunity to showcase the government’s work in the past years and the policies that have been implemented to make investments easier in Belize. The Ministry of the Blue Economy was also mentioned as a vehicle for advancing the country’s efforts for conservation and presented as a holistic approach to marine resources management. Briceño stated that to make the summit even more interesting, they are now giving high prominence to the Orange Economy, which Colombian former President Marquez elaborated.
Prime Minister Briceño considered Marquez’s presentation on the Orange Economy an eye-opener on the potential for investment in Belize. Marquez said that Belize is a land of opportunities where the Orange Economy could contribute significantly to the country’s human, cultural and economic development. According to him, the Orange Economy covers creativity and innovation. He also touched on the Green and Blue Economies, and by combining these three approaches, Marquez said there will be opportunities leading to ecotourism with culture, sea protection, and biodiversity protection that can lead to a significant transformation of the Belizean economy for decades ahead. “These three colors will define the present and the future for many of the Belizean citizens and trigger investment as this country deserves,” he said.  As he presented focusing on the Orange Economy, he emphasized that Belize has all the components to exploit it. “This is an economy that combines four critical elements,” said Marquez. “One is heritage, followed by the media, the arts, and creativity.”  Examples of this new approach include filming, architecture, advertising, and creating opportunities where people can explore and excel in their talents. Marquez also highlighted that once a country, in this case Belize, explores the Orange Economy, it can be exported, contributing significantly to its Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Marquez stated that this new sector of opportunities would allow the youngest population to give their best in an area where they can contribute with the best of their human capital, which is their talent. The former president ended his encouraging presentation by commending the idea of investment incentives. He also reminded those present that it is important to include the local communities, particularly the indigenous groups, to integrate into this new economic plan. Marquez believes that Belize’s GDP can double in less than a decade if everything is done accordingly. He wished the country well and said that it could become an exemplary nation of Orange, Blue, and Green economies.
Following the presentations, the attendees broke into panel discussions. The summit ends on Friday, September 1st, with another round of panel discussions, presentations, and business and export expositions.The first Belize Investment Summit was held on November 10, 2021, in the same San Pedro location. The event, triggered by the devastating COVID-19 pandemic, was Briceño’s administrative strategy to attract investment and grow an injured economy. The special invited guest included former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper in this first edition. According to Briceño, this initiative yielded positive results, so his administration plans to host the event every two years.

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