Belize: Country and Foreign Investment
Foreign Investment Regime
The Belizean Government lists the following criteria according to which it judges foreign investment:
- creates employment opportunities;
- makes maximum use of indigenous raw materials;
- earns foreign exchange;
- results in increased production;
- introduces state-of-the-art technology;
- enhances local management skills;
- promotes greater efficiency through competition;
- diversifies the economic base;
- facilitates access to foreign markets;
- is environmentally friendly.
Longer term incentives are offered for the location of industries in the less-developed rural areas of the country and for export-oriented projects or projects utilizing technology not previously introduced into Belize. The government prefers joint venture and partnership investments, but does permit one hundred percent foreign ownership of an enterprise.
Investment incentives are contained in the following legislation:
- Fiscal Incentive Act, No. 6 of 1990;
- International Business and Public Investment Companies (IBC) Act 1990;
- Mines and Mineral Act 1988;
- Export Processing Zone (EPZ) Act 1990;
- Commercial Free Zone (CFZ) Act 1994;
- Fiscal Incentives Act 1990
The Fiscal Incentives Act (No.6) offers tax holidays and duty exemptions.
Tax holidays are normally offered for 5 years, extensible for up to a further 10 years; but in the case of agricultural investment may be for up to 25 years. However, there is a provision that the Minister for Economic Development, on application made by the company in a fit and proper case, can review the company's operations and renew the tax-holiday period for a further term not exceeding ten years.
Duty exemptions are offered to every company which has been granted an Approved Enterprise Order (Development Concession) to import into Belize, free of import duty, and revenue replacement duty, a wide range of industrial machinery, construction materials and raw materials. Exemption is normally given for 15 years, with a 10-year extension.
The terms of incentives are decided at Cabinet level. Companies applying under the Act need to be incorporated in Belize and applications have to be accompanied by:
- a copy of Memorandum and Articles of Association;
- copy of Certificate of Incorporation;
- banker's reference on the bank's official letter-head;
- land tenure deed;
- proforma profitability statement up to the second year of full production;
- list of items requested for duty exemptions;
- details of local inputs.
Application fees depend on the level of proposed investment, and at the time of writing, are as follows:
- Investment up to US$250,000, fee US$3,500;
- Investment between US$250,000 and US$500,000, fee US$7,500
- Investment between US$500,000 and US$2,500,000, fee US$10,000.00;
- Investment over US$2,500,000, fee US$10,000.00
For further information, contact:
Ministry of Economic Development
Tel. No.: (501)-8-22526
Fax No.: (501)-8-23111
In 2008, the Belize Trade and Investment Development Service (BELTRAIDE) announced that it will focus on three strategic areas: investment promotion, entrepreneurial development and marketing.
As part of its strategy on investment promotion, BELTRAIDE is compiling a National Export Strategy which contains details on five priority investment sectors which possess a greater level of competitive advantage for Belize.
A Belize Marketing Study has been carried out, which identifies the potential of markets for niche-non-traditional products. This study will be an essential tool for Belizean producers to take advantage of trade opportunities in Central America, the United States, CARICOM and European Union.
To create a more conducive environment that stimulates growth in entrepreneurial development for small and medium-sized businesses, BELTRAIDE, in collaboration with the Commonwealth Secretariat, is working on a National SME Policy to address the issues and challenges affecting the development of micro, small and medium sized enterprises.