Belize is located in Central America, bordering the Caribbean Sea, between Guatemala and Mexico. Its climate is tropical; very hot and humid; rainy season (May to November); dry season (February to May). Mostly flat, swampy coastal plain; low mountains in south. The country’s natural resources include arable land potential, timber, fish, hydropower. Some of the natural hazards that affect the country are frequent, devastating hurricanes (June to November) and coastal flooding (especially in south). Belize is the only country in Central America without a coastline on the North Pacific Ocean. There have been territorial disputes between the UK and Guatemala delayed the independence of Belize (formerly British Honduras) until 1981. Guatemala refused to recognize the new nation until 1992. Tourism has become the mainstay of the economy. The country remains plagued by high unemployment, growing involvement in the South American drug trade, and increased urban crime.
Belize’s population is at about 235,789. Sixty-two % of the country is Roman Catholic and the rest are broken up into various Christian denominations. The country’s official language is English but Spanish, Mayan, and Garifuna are spoken daily.
The legal system is based on English Law. The chief of state being Queen Elizabeth II (since 6 February 1952), represented by the Governor General, the head of government Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister. The legislative branch is bicameral National Assembly consists of the Senate with eight members. Members are appointed for five-year terms, five on the advice of the prime minister, two on the advice of the leader of the opposition, and one after consultation with the Belize Advisory Council. This council serves as an independent body to advise the governor general with respect to difficult decisions such as granting pardons, commutations, stays of execution, the removal of justices of appeal who appear to be incompetent, etcetera and the National Assembly have 29 seats. Members are elected by direct popular vote to serve five-year terms.
Belize is a small private enterprise economy is based primarily on agriculture, agro-based industry, and merchandising, with tourism and construction having greater importance. Sugar, the chief crop, accounts for nearly half of exports, while the banana industry is the country’s largest employer. The government’s tough austerity program in 1997 resulted in an economic slowdown that continued in 1998. The trade deficit has been growing, mostly as a result of low export prices for sugar and bananas. The new government faces important challenges to economic stability. Rapid action to improve tax collection has been promised, but a lack of progress in reigning in spending could bring the exchange rate under pressure.
The GDP is approximately $700 million dollars with a GDP growth rate of 0.5% which is not much. The inflation rate is at about -0.5%. The national currency is the Belizean dollar which has a fixed rate, $2.00 Belizean dollars for every $1 US dollar. The country is exporting approximately $95.3 million annually and importing about $149.7 million annually. Major exports and commodities include sugar 46%, bananas 26%, and the rest citrus fruits, clothing, fish products, molasses, wood. Export partners break down bye countries would be the US 45%, UK 30%, Mexico 3%, Canada 3%, and the other 19% the rest of the world including Europe and South America. Major imports and commodities include machinery and transportation equipment, manufactured goods, food, fuels, chemicals, pharmaceuticals with its major import partners being the US 52%, Mexico 13%, UK 5%.
All in all this is a country that I would probably wait on doing any business in. I do not see much profit making since the GDP is not really growing. Although the tourism business always does well in the Caribbean and that is a good place to start in doing business in Belize.
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