Belize Market Entry

Belize Market Entry

Subchapters:

  • Market entry
  • Forms and conditions of operation on the market
  • Marketing and Communications
  • Issues of intellectual property protection
  • Public procurement market
  • Payment terms, payment ethics and resolution of commercial disputes
  • Visas, fees, specific conditions of travel to the territory
  • Employment of citizens from the Czech Republic
  • Fairs and events

Market entry

According to cheeroutdoor.com, the best way to break into the Belizean market is to find a local importer who will act as a sales representative. Direct sales are rather an exception. An example of a typical trade chain for Belize is as follows: foreign manufacturer – local importer – retailer – consumer. To find a suitable business partner, it is recommended to use the knowledge and contacts of the honorary consul of the Czech Republic in Belize.

Forms and conditions of operation on the market

Import conditions and documents, customs system, export control, domestic market protection
In April 2000, Belize began to apply CARICOM’s Common External Tariff (CET) rules. A seven-digit nomenclature based on a harmonized common list of goods and a code system is used. Tariffs are divided into 3 sections: a breakdown of customs rates, a list of conditional customs exemptions and a list not subject to conditional customs exemptions. Tariff rates range from 0-5% to 20-25%. For some agricultural products, the customs rate reaches 40%.

In order to protect domestic production, the government has established 27 categories of products and products for which a  license must be obtained to import . The list includes, for example, rice, beans, eggs, sugar, citrus fruits, flour, meat, jam, paprika sauce, matches, peanuts, pasta, soups, milk, toilet paper, soap, beer, carbonated drinks, fuel, brooms, wooden furniture, rattan and boats. The Ministry of Industry asked the government to gradually remove this import barrier, pointing out that it supports the flourishing of corruption. Belize Customs uses the original invoice and the goods catalog to determine the value of imported goods. In particular, it is checked whether the declared value corresponds to reality. The aim is to prevent undervaluation of goods and loss of income for payment of import duties. The importation of certain agricultural products is subject to special rules established by The Belize Agricultural Health Authority (BAHA), an institution under the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries. BAHA requires an appropriate import permit,

When exporting a certain type of goods, a so-called  export permit  and/or zoosanitary or phytosanitary certificate is required. The license and relevant certificates are issued by BAHA. The list of products whose export is subject to this regime includes, for example, beef and pork, live cattle, fish, crustaceans, wood, sugar, honey, citrus or beans.

In both cases, the exporter and importer must obtain the appropriate permits in advance.

Belize Customs also allows temporary importation or transit of goods under specified conditions. Goods in this regime usually enter the country duty-free, they must not be modified in any way during the time spent in Belize. If the importer later decides to sell such goods on the local market, he has to pay additional duty. The Belize Bureau of Standards was established in 1992 to promote the use of codes, specifications and standards. Regulation was actually started only in 1997. Belize closely cooperates with CARICOM, from where it adopted a number of standards, for example, for marking and labeling of products.

Marketing and communication

Similar to other countries, mass media are used. Newspapers: Amandala Press, The Belize Time Press, The Reporter, The Guardian, San Pedro Sun
TV station: Great Belize Productions Ltd. (Channel 5), Belize Family Channel (Channel 7), Baymen Broadcasting Network (Channel 9), SBS Television Ltd., Channel Broadcasting Cable Co.
Radio stations: The Broadcasting Corporation of Belize, Love FM Music Power, Radio Krem

Issues of intellectual property protection

In May 2000, the Belizean Parliament adopted a set of laws to protect intellectual property, the adoption of which was requested by the WTO as part of the implementation of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (TRIPS). The package of 6 legislative changes covered copyright, industrial design, patents, trade marks, protection of new plant species and drawings and electronic circuit plans. Thus, Belize joined the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property. The new legislation came into force in January 2001. Music and video stores still continue to sell illegal copies. Belize is a member of the Berne Convention for the Protection of Copyright and since 2001 has also been a member of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).

Public procurement market

Deliveries to state bodies and institutions are complicated, in most cases success depends on personal contacts within the governing party. Local suppliers who are not members of the ruling party are not allowed to participate in them. State contracts over 50,000 USD are subject to the obligation to organize a public tender. Significant space opens up especially in the implementation of public contracts financed by multilateral institutions (such as the World Bank). Up-to-date information on tenders can be found on the Public Procurement website.

Payment terms, payment ethics and resolution of commercial disputes

Since 1967, Belize has recognized the United Kingdom Arbitration Act 1966 (Arbitration Act). It sets out the procedure for resolving disputes and compensation. However, in practice, this legal norm is not used to resolve disputes, because individual contracts contain their own arbitration clauses.

Visas, fees, specific conditions for traveling to the territory

On August 1, 2004, a bilateral agreement on the abolition of the visa requirement for citizens of the Czech Republic and Belize entered into force, while the total length of stay may not exceed 90 days. The agreement also prohibits citizens of both countries from performing any gainful activity during their stay.

Belize is one of the countries with a relatively high crime rate, often associated with drug trafficking. The greatest caution must be exercised in the capital and on the border with Guatemala, where the most thefts and assaults are recorded. It is recommended to follow some basic principles:

  • keep your passport and other valuable documents, such as your ticket, in the hotel safe and travel with only a minimum amount of cash
  • do not wear jewelry, be careful with valuables (video camera, camera, etc.)
  • always park in a guarded parking lot, never leave any items in the car
  • do not hire a hitchhiker, order a taxi service through the receptionist, rent cars only from well-known rental companies
  • travel only on main roads and in daylight
  • travel with health insurance, check the extent of its coverage in Belize before you travel
  • be careful of luggage and bags with documents in the city center, at hotel receptions, at bus stops and also directly on buses (theft of personal luggage from the overhead shelves of bus passengers is common)

It is recommended to drink only bottled water.

Protect yourself from mosquitoes, especially near the coast. Recently, epidemics of Zika, malaria, chikungunya and dengue diseases, which are caused by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, have appeared in Central American countries.

Virtually all main roads in Belize have an asphalt surface, even minor roads are relatively passable. Even so, a four-wheel drive vehicle is recommended for travel.

Beaches in Belize are quite dangerous – they are characterized by strong currents that can carry an unwary swimmer far out to sea.

Employment of citizens from the Czech Republic

In February 1999, Belize introduced new measures to regulate the residence of immigrants aimed at:

  • protection of the local workforce
  • tightening border control
  • deportation of immigration violators
  • strengthening the autonomy of the Belize Migration Authority

Foreigners who visit Belize as tourists for up to 30 days are not allowed to work during their stay. Companies that will employ illegal workers face a fine of thousand. USD and must cover the costs of their repatriation. A foreign national must obtain a work permit to work in Belize. The profession of waiter, salesperson or housekeeper is reserved for locals only. An administrative fee is charged for issuing a work permit, the amount of which depends on the type of authorized work activity according to the following table:

  • professional and technical work – 1,500 BZD/year
  • general work (except seasonal work in agriculture) – 200 BZD/year
  • seasonal work – 50 BZD/season
  • top artists in a group of 2 to 6 people – 500 BZD/week
  • artists in a group of 6 or more people – 750 BZD/week
  • independent artists – 300 BZD/week
  • church, educational and volunteer work – 50 BZD/year

The average minimum wage is about 10 USD/day. The minimum average wage for a laborer is $1.13/hour. E.g. the wage of a mason or carpenter is in the range of 17-20 USD/day, their helper receives about 12.50 USD/day. A mason or carpenter in a management position is paid between $25-$30/day. The employer contributes to social insurance with the Belize Social Security Board (BSSB, established in 1981). Every employer must register himself and his employees with the BSSB. Employees are entitled to 16 paid sick days and 2 weeks of vacation per year.

The Ministry of Labor processes temporary employment permits for foreigners (Temporary Employment Permit – TEP). Processing takes about 6 weeks. The applicant must present a valid passport, 3 photos, pay a fee of USD 10 and confirm that they have sufficient funds to stay. An interview with both the employee and the employer is also required. The positively processed application is sent to the immigration office, which issues the residence permit. An administrative fee in the range of USD 25-750 depending on the nature of the job classification must be paid for the issued permit. There are 3 types of permits – standard, for agricultural work and for work in a free trade zone. The duration of the temporary work permit varies from 3 months to 1 year and it is possible to extend it. Permanent residence can only be applied for after 1 year of legal residence. An extract from the criminal record is attached to the application, medical report, etc. An administrative fee ranging from USD 187.50 to USD 1,562.50 is required for the issuance of a permanent residence permit, depending on the nationality of the applicant. Processing takes about 3 months.

It is possible to apply for Belizean citizenship after 5 years of permanent residence in the country. The application is accompanied by a criminal record extract, proof of land ownership in Belize, proof of five-year residency in Belize, medical certificate containing a negative HIV test, 3 photographs, birth certificate, marriage certificate, bank account statement from a local bank, partner’s declaration of declaration of support, permanent residence permit, tax return.

Fairs and events

There are currently no events taking place due to the measures taken due to the COVID19 pandemic, and it is not clear which of the regularly held ones will be resumed.

Belize Market Entry