Page 1

Southwest Airlines Has Landed

COPA Airlines Arriving Dec, 2016

Belize Wins Top Travel Awards


CONTACT US: GLEN CH WILSON, TEP, FCIS MD@oslbelize.com www.offshoregroupbelize.com

2

3

Volume 4, 2015


“Join us as we transform the future of the Belizean economy� I am delighted to welcome you to our fourth edition of Invest Belize. Since this magazine was launched three years ago, Belize has seen phenomenal attention from investors in key areas of the economy. This increased attention and the resulting increase in FDI are testaments of the fact that the fundamentals that investors look for in an economy are all present in this nation full of natural bounty. With a population density of a mere 15 persons per square km, we have vast lands available for development in agriculture, forestry activities, and a myriad of nature-based leisure activities. The rich biodiversity is dotted with historical and geological wonders, pristine forests teem with life both above and below the sea; all this make for a wondrous backdrop for the adventure of your life. An abundance of fresh water rivers, lakes and streams atop rich alluvial soil deposits presents the opportunity for sustainable agriculture in an naturally organic environment, with the promise of higher than average prices for those agricultural products in which we have a natural advantage. But then there are the little curses: Spreading so few people over so much land brings great challenges in developing the infrastructure needed to ensure easy transportation and universal access to utilities by all. Not to be daunted, our government has taken on the challenge and has focused public investment in a transformation program like has never been seen before. In a couple short years, we have seen unprecedented improvements in municipal streets and drainage, highways, bridges, farm roads, utilities, and public leisure facilities countrywide. Even as we transform and modernize the infrastructural backbone, so has been the transformation in the lives of Belizeans. Over the past two years we have developed programs to expand employment through demand-driven training, resulting in the placement of thousands of Belizeans in well-paying jobs as industry

4

continues to expand with the growth in investment, while we continue to invest in small business initiatives, which will see the emergence and formalization of new suppliers to our growing industries. Additionally, through policy reform, we have been able to develop clear trade and investment policies aimed at opening new international markets for Belizean products under preferential tariff arrangements, and on ensuring that investors are rewarded with the right incentives to assure their success. Most of all, by strengthening our partnership with the Private Sector, we are quickly building diversity and resilience into our economy, improving the business climate for new entrants, and opening our country for opportunities. I welcome you to read this new issue on overnight tourism opportunities. This sector is the most obvious, as one need not look very hard to see the beauty and the immense possibilities for leisure development. With ever increasing flight connections to Belize, a stellar country brand, and our welcoming atmosphere for visitors, you can bet that any investment in this sector will be a winner.

Land Area: 8,867 Sq Miles

Population: 356,900 $588.7 Million

$983.7 Million

Merchandise Merchandise Exports Imports

Population Density: 40.25 per mi² Labor Force: 153,000 Minimum Wage: $1.65 USD/hour

$1.7

Billion GDP

$4,760 GDP per capita

$0.18

$487 Million Gross Official International Reserves (2014)

The average cost of electricity (USD) per KWh

1.51% Populace Growth

3.6% GDP Real Growth

Weighted average lending rate:

1%

0.75-25%

Inflation

Corporate Income Tax Rates

Weighted average deposit rate:

$4.36 (0-1000 gals) $52.87 (7,000 gals)

5.7 Months Import cover of reserves (2014)

The average cost of water for businesses.

10.7% 1.7%

Join us as we transform the future of the Belizean economy. Please contact my office for any assistance you may need in getting your business up and running.

Michael Singh Chief Executive Officer Ministry of Trade, Investment Promotion, Private Sector Development and Consumer Protection

5

Volume 4, 2015


SOUTHWEST LANDS PG. 26 As the Minister of Tourism, Culture, and Civil Aviation, it has

support of BELTRAIDE we continue to enhance the tourism

been particularly gratifying to see the growth in the Tourism

investment climate, via our development incentive packages

Industry over these recent years, and

and

the impact which it has had on the

Persons program.

the

popular

Qualified

Retired

overall development of our beloved Coupled these with a booming airlift

jewel, Belize.

offer, in which we recently added two Over the past decade, we have been

new members to Team Belize, Southwest

able to evolve from Mother Nature’s

Airlines and COPA Airlines, and in which

Best Kept Secret, a country brand that

we continue to actively seek new partners

highlighted the vast wealth of natural

in North America, South America and the

resources which our country enjoys, to

European markets, we continue to create

a Be Belize ethos, which encapsulates

new inroads in establishing Belize as the

our country’s eco-tourism roots while at

go to place for tourism investment and

the same time builds on the uniqueness

development in our region.

and authenticity of the experiential based tourism we offer. Without a doubt, our friendly, fully capable and valued

We welcome you to join us on this journey, and to be a part

tourism partners galvanize an unparalleled experience for

of Team Belize.

both our visitors and investors in Belize. Over the past 5 years, we have experienced unprecedented growth in both overnight and cruise tourism arrivals, frequently doubling the average annual arrival growth rates of the Caribbean and Central American regions. Receiving

Manuel Heredia Honorable Manuel Heredia Jr. Minister of Tourism, Culture and Civil Aviation

the 2015 World Travel Awards for Leading Destination, and Leading Beach Destination in our region, as well as, being nominated for a plethora of additional accolades, including World’s Leading Overall Destination, World’s Leading Green Destination, and Leading Diving Destination, Belize has amassed a competitive and viable brand equity, which for the foreseeable future will continue to draw positive tourism numbers. Under the guidance of the National Sustainable Tourism Master Plan (NSTMP) 2030, we continue to expand our infrastructure and accessibility across our tourism destinations, we continue to improve tourism business and product quality, we are investing heavily on human resource capacity building, international marketing, and with the

6

pg. 14

“IT WAS LIKE HEAVEN ON EARTH” BLACKADORE CAYE INVESTMENT

18

Q&A: CAYE CHAPEL FIND OUT WHAT THE FUTURE HAS IN STORE

22

ARE YOU FOLLOWING THE INVESTMENT PATTERN?

30

34

TAX ASPECTS

AMBER SUNSET

A NEW WORLD OF OPPORTUNITY

SMALL AND BEAUTIFUL

STAY UP TO DATE

7

Volume 4, 2015


MEXICO

Find the sweetest measure of tranquility within the sugar regions of Belize. With its cultural influences, soothing river and coastal water adventures, there’s much to savor, particularly the local flavors.

EDITORIAL TEAM Tanya McNab Editor in Chief Emaun Hyde Deputy Editor

The North Islands are all about immersion. The top activity in this region is Hol Chan Marine Reserve and Shark Ray Alley, where you can snorkel or scuba dive.

Home to the howler monkeys and many rare bird species, Central Belize is perfect for travelers looking to get into all things Belize.

The Belize Barrier Reef spans 185 miles of the country’s coastline and is the largest reef system in the Northern Hemisphere.

In southern Belize the Maya, Garifuna, East Indians, and Chinese communities, live in harmony and in unity. Here, daily living requires some form of farming and tourism.

8

Dora Guerra Production Manager McNab Publishing Ltd. ADVERTISING, SALES, & ADMINISTRATIVE TEAM Tanya McNab, Emaun Hyde, Dina Avelar For advertising information please contact emaun@mcnabpublishing.com BELTRAIDE Michael Singh CEO, Ministry of Trade, Investment Promotion, Private Sector Development and Consumer Protection Lejia Melanie Gideon, General Manager, Enterprise and Innovation Division Shari Williams, Manager of Marketing and Information RESEARCH TEAM Nicole Zetina, Analysis and Research Officer

You’ll discover new heights throughout Western Belize. Known for its spectacular caving systems, waterfalls, rivers, ancient Maya archaeological sites, and lush jungles, this region beckons a: hike, swim, truck/boat ride for optimum immersion.

G U AT E M A L A

CREATIVE TEAM Tanya McNab Art Director and Digital Design Director McNab Design Ltd.

Tomas Gongora, Sr. Marketing and Information Officer

From the remarkable Maya Mountain Massif views to the golden sandy beaches, Placencia, Hopkins and Dangriga are a true fisherman’s village with strong cultural pride. These eco-tourist regions feature exceptional natural amenities, a signature of pristine Belize.

CONTRIBUTORS Hon. Manuel Heredia Jr. - Minister of Tourism, Civil Aviation and Culture, Frik de Meyere - Boris Mannsfeld and Associates, Daniel Hartin - Sandy Point Real Estate, Amber Sunset Jungle Resort, McLennan Design, Abraham Roffe - El Secreto Resort, Stewart Patton - U.S. Tax Services Ltd., Tricia Gideon - Trade Economist, Foreign Trade Directorate, Emaun Hyde - McNab Publishing Ltd., Christine Smith - Manager BTEC PHOTOGRAPHY Portrait Photography: Susan Singh SPECIAL THANKS Brian Lin, Manager, BelizeINVEST Christine Smith, Manager, BTEC, Shahera McKoy, Manager ExportBELIZE Monique Usher, Business Advisor, Noriko Gamero and Karen Pike, Belize Tourism Board, Southwest Airlines The title Invest Belize is a registered trademark of BELTRAIDE. No part of this magazine may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without the written permission of the publisher. This book has been printed and published by McNab Publishing Ltd. Belize City, Belize

9

Volume 4, 2015


Tourism Arrivals on the Rise Overnight arrivals for the 3rd quarter (July-September) of 2015 have shown a significant increase of 6.9%, when compared to the same period in 2014. September saw an astounding increase of 19.3%; the highest increase ever recorded for the month of September, going as far back as 2006. There were 14,242 overnight visitors in September 2015, which is an increase of 2,299 compared to September 2014.

Keeping you Connected: New gateways opened up in 2015

The Airport remains the leading entry point into the country. Air arrivals accounted for 74.7% of the total overnight arrivals. September 2015 saw an increase of approximately 20% through the international airport. We can conclude that visitors from the United States accounted for the bulk of this increase in airport arrivals for September, as arrivals for Americans increased by 28.55%.

45,000

UNITED STATES of AMERICA

40,000

New York

Chicago

35,000 Los Angeles

30,000 25,000

2014

20,000

2015

Dallas Atlanta Houston

15,000 10,000 5,000 Miami

0 Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

Jun

Jul

Aug

Sep

OVERNIGHT VISITOR ARRIVALS JANUARY TO SEPTEMBER 2014 - 2015

MEXICO

Gulf of Mexico Merida

Cancun Flores

BELIZE

Roatan HONDURAS

In January 2105, properties around Belize earned top spots in TripAdvisor’s “2015 Travellers’ Choice Awards.” Awards range from Top 25 Hotels in Central America: awarded to Victoria House – San

GUATEMALA

San Pedro Sula

Pedro, Coco Beach Resort – San Pedro, Grand Caribe Belize Resort and Condominiums – San Pedro, Las Terrazas Resort – San Pedro and Belize Ocean Club – Placencia.

Caribbean Sea Panama City

Hamanasi Adventure and Dive Resort in Hopkins and The Phoenix Resort in San Pedro received top

awards in multiple categories such as Top 25 Small Hotels in the World and Top 25 Hotels for Service in the World. The Phoenix Resort, also gained the #2 spot for Top 25 Luxury Hotels in the World.

PANAMA

In August 2015, Belize had been nominated in 4 categories of the prestigious World Travel Awards for 2015. The categories included: Mexico & Central America’s Leading Beach Destination 2015, Leading Destination 2015, Leading Nature Reserve 2015 and leading Tourist Board. Belize is extremely proud and excited to announce that for the first time in the 22 years history of the World Travel Awards, Belize has won the two biggest Travel Oscars for the Continent.

10

11 Volume 4, 2015


A new evolution in resor t community living, infusing advanced m od e r n a m e n ities, a rustic- chic sty le and lively ambiance w ith unforgettable Be lize a n h os p ita lity, culture and charm. This resor t is surrounded by w hite sand bea ch es on Am b e rg r is Caye, Belize – currently rated the #1 island in the world by Tr ip Ad vis orŽ .

UN F O R G E T TA BL E H O L I DAYS The Resort at Mahogany Bay offers 205 cottage-style hotel rooms perfect for short or long stays. The cottages and suites are artfully designed and feature lofty ceilings, Belizean hardwood finishes, heirloom-quality furnishings, kitchen and home office options and beautiful indoor/outdoor living spaces so inspiring that you'll dream of staying forever. Guests will recharge using our personalized services and modern amenities at the Bay Club Pool, the Beach Club, and Beauty Bar. Make new friends over morning coffee at Rum & Bean CafĂŠ and find everything you want and need in The General Store. Non-stop entertainment in Mahogany Bay Village means guests will enjoy a variety of retail and fabulous dining options, access to adventure tours, social activities and so much more.

12

ADVE NTURE P YGRO UND Ambergris Caye, Belize offers family-friendly fun at every turn. Within moments of arriving visitors understand why this amazing country is on the bucket list of most adventure travelers. Custom tours and leisure activities enable guests to easily experience sailing, kayaking, snorkeling and scuba diving; river, reef, spear, off-shore and fly fishing; bird and wildlife watching; hiking, caving, and zip-lining; and ancient Mayan archeological ruins, all departing from the village or your back porch. You may arrive curious but you'll leave thrilled and totally in love with this colorful, vibrant country and incredible Belizean culture.

WATERFRON T LIFE STYLE

PARA D I S E I N YOU R P ORT FOL I O

Create the life of your dreams and live with us part-time or year-around in your own custom-crafted private home in The Residences at Mahogany Bay Village. Homeowners and retirees will enjoy the benefits of living in a safe, smart, connected resort community with access to all the personalized services, modern amenities, beach and bay clubs, spa, retail, dining, adventure tour, leisure and social activities available to hotel guests. We've created a special place where you can enjoy sunrise overlooking the turquoise blue Caribbean Sea, spend afternoons navigating the island via the numerous canals, and toast evening cocktails with friends watching spectacular sunsets on Mahogany Bay. Memories made here will last a lifetime.

Belize is an English-speaking country with a stable economy and protected natural resources. It is extremely friendly to foreign investors. For investors seeking a secure international opportunity, Mahogany Bay Village's visionary master plan offers diverse options on a proven island, and an attractive and lasting return on investment. For entrepreneurs looking for new opportunities, Mahogany Bay Village invites you to bring your retail concepts, professional services and innovative business ideas to a growing Caribbean community. We'll help you navigate the systems and the local landscape, including the advantageous Belizean residency program, so you can successfully set up shop.

13 Volume 4, 2015


Frik De Meyere Sales & Business Development, Boris Mannsfeld & Associates

Overnight tourism is a vital supporter of the economy in Belize and fortunately the industry is thriving. The world has now taken notice and is taking advantage of the amazing array of attractions this beautiful nation has to offer. Stunning Caribbean beaches, word class diving, fishing and sailing, historic Maya Ruins, thrilling zip line and cave tubing adventures, beautiful wildlife, chocolate plantations, boutique resorts and most importantly the Belizean people’s enthusiastic approach in sharing their rich culture and country with those visiting. Overnight tourism is blossoming hand in hand with Belize. Across the board efforts are being made to develop and promote the overnight tourism sector; efforts by the Government, the private sector, foreign and local investors and the international media. Clearly it’s been working as more and more direct flights from around the world are landing at the Philip Goldson international airport; Chicago and Los Angeles being some of the most recent additions. Roads to major tourist destinations such as Hopkins and north Ambergris Caye are being upgraded thanks to the GOB. Additionally, the international media continues to shine a positive light on our beautiful nation with impressive articles; most notably the New York Times piece highlighting the eco-development spearheaded by actor Leonardo DiCaprio. The entire nation of Belize along with its foreign participants are working side by side to develop and promote our beautiful nation and this we are all very thankful for.

14

The Placencia peninsula is one destination in particular where overnight tourism is thriving on all fronts. The ultra successful Ka’ana resort in Cayo is expanding and creating new jobs at their latest resort Itz’ana currently under construction on the peninsula. The much-anticipated completion of the Placencia International Airport is getting closer and closer, which will lead to direct commercial and private flights landing within 15 minutes of world-class beaches. Lastly, overnight tourism on the peninsula will certainly benefit from the projected November 2015 opening of the Norwegian Cruise Line Harvest Caye cruise port located 3 miles south of Placencia. The extensive and free international marketing and the revisiting cruise line passengers will boost the overnight visits in the south. The flourishing overnight tourism sector on the peninsula is verified by the increase in real estate activity and pricing. Local real estate firms, including ours, have reported record sales, especially in areas of development parcels and commercially zoned land. Foreign resort developers along with local and international investors foresee significant growth in the overnight sector and all the other business opportunities that will come along with this: Marina services, Boat maintenance, storage facilities, furniture stores, lawyer offices, bookkeepers, wedding planners, and much more.

Bi-Lingual Language Skills

Only Central American and Caribbean country with truly bi-lingual capabilities (English and Spanish)

Time Zone Advantage

Mirrors US Central Standard Time (CST)

Proximity & International Connectivity

Within 2 to 4 hours of flying time from key US cities with direct flights from Dallas, Houston, Charlotte, Atlanta and Miami

Stable Environment

One of most stable political, social, business environment in Central America

Strong Government Support

Industry sectors identified as priorities

Stable Currency

Belize dollar (BZD) fixed at 2:1 against the U.S. dollar

Telecom Infrastructure

Modern telecom infrastructure with high redundancy

Incentive Programs

Multiple incentives including free repatriation of profits, dividends and capital etc.

Ease of Employment

Visa

Easy availability of work permit for non-residents No visa requirement for U.S., Canada, E.U. and the Caribbean Community

Top Tourist Destination

Prime tourist and retirement location in The Americas

Multiple FTA’s, Double Taxation Avoidance Agreements, Regional Trade Agreements

United Kingdom, Sweden, Denmark, Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and Central America

1-800-528-1234 +501-223-2302 w w w. b e l i z e b i l t m o re . c o m

15 Volume 4, 2015


Renderings courtesy of McLennan Design

In what may be his highest-impact leading role yet, the actor Leonardo DiCaprio, the Oscar-nominated “Wolf of Wall Street,” is planning to heal an island.

A well-known environmental activist, Mr. DiCaprio bought Blackadore Caye, 104 acres of wild, unpopulated land off the coast of Belize, with a partner soon after he first set foot in the country a decade ago. “It was like heaven on earth. And almost immediately, I found this opportunity to purchase an island there.” Now Mr. DiCaprio has joined with Paul Scialla, the chief executive of Delos, a New York City-based developer, to create an eco-conscious resort there. When it opens to guests in 2018, “Blackadore Caye, a Restorative Island” will feature the trappings of many luxury resorts, with sprawling villas, infinity pools and stunning sunset views. Blackadore Caye is a 45-minute boat ride from Philip S. W. Goldson International Airport in Belize City and a 15-minute boat ride from San Pedro, the

16

nearest big town. The island has been used for hundreds of years, according to Juan Rovalo, a biologist who leads a team of scientists studying the caye. The villas for guests on Blackadore Caye will be built atop a massive platform that stretches in an arc over the water, with artificial reefs and fish shelters underneath. A nursery on the island will grow indigenous marine grass to support a manatee conservation area, and mangrove trees will be replanted, replacing invasive species. A team of designers, scientists, engineers and landscape architects, some of whom have spent more than 18 months studying Blackadore Caye, will monitor the resort’s impact on its surroundings. “The main focus is to do something that will change the world,” Mr. DiCaprio said. “I couldn’t have gone to Belize and built on an island and done something like this, if it weren’t for the idea that it could be groundbreaking in the environmental movement.” An avid scuba diver, Mr. DiCaprio first visited Belize in 2005 to swim its barrier reef. “As soon as I got there,

I fell in love,” Mr. DiCaprio said. “Belize is truly unique. It has the second largest coral reef system in the world, and it has some of the most bio diverse marine life, like the manatee population and almost every species of fish you can imagine. Then there are the Mayan temples and the culture.” Restorative Islands L.L.C., which is owned by Mr. Scialla, will build the resort at Blackadore Caye, and Restorative Hospitality, a division of Delos, will be its operator. “The idea at Blackadore Caye is to push the envelope for what sustainability means — moving the idea beyond environmental awareness into restoration,” Mr. Scialla said. “We don’t want to just do less harm or even have zero impact, but to actually help heal the island, to make it better than before.”

climate change, there are huge challenges, so we want the structure to not only enhance and improve the environment, but to be a model for the future. That includes restoring the island, creating conservation areas where we can hold research conferences, and regenerating the entire ecosystem to bring it back to its original form and beyond.” Blackadore Caye has unfortunately endured overfishing, an eroding coastline, the deforestation of its mangrove trees, and most recently the islands palm trees have been uprooted and used for developments on the neighboring Ambergris Caye. The goal is to bring about significant change and awareness of the importance of environmental conservation, sustainable developments, and ecotourism.

“We are pushing each other the whole way to test the boundaries of what is possible,” said Mr. DiCaprio of his partnership with Mr. Scialla and the lead architect and designer, Jason F. McLennan. “With the onset of

17


Can you tell us a little bit about Caye Chapel and the plans for this island? A 265 acre private island complete with sandy beaches, astounding views, palm trees and infrastructural ingredients in place that when combined can be transformed into an ultra high end experience a short swim away from the 2nd largest barrier reef formation in the world. The island, which already has facilities in place such as an 18 - hole golf course and private airstrip is one of the most premiere pieces of real estate in the country. It’s really special. We plan to take what is already there - upgrade and expand - and turn it into Belize’s first luxury golf resort. What amenities or features will this development offer to set it apart? Once completed, the island will be home to a high end resort featuring over-water bungalows, a Greg Norman designed golf course, branded beach-front residencies, marina, airstrip, and a world class spa. The development will be nothing short of wow, but I think what really sets this apart is the island itself. Surrounded by the warm Caribbean waters, bordered on one side by the barrier reef, and the other by Caye Caulker the experience and the opportunity to create moments that truly stand out is unbeatable. I think what seems to truly stand out is the fact that while Belize is surrounded by countries who offer impressive opportunities to play golf in spectacular settings, it simply hasn’t been done here before. You’re essentially opening a whole new market for the country. How do you know this will work? Well, nothing is ever guaranteed to work, but it has certainly worked for neighboring countries and so our thought is, “why not Belize?” We’ve involved Greg Norman, who is an ex-golf player and renowned in the golfing industry for his reputation in designing many of the best golf courses in the world. His company will be handling the redesign, and he’s actually scheduled

18

to be making his first visit to the island next month. Again, I feel that it comes back down to Belize and what this country is already offering and then adding to that. People already want to come here, they are already looking at Belize as an option, and now all we’re doing is offering them one more option while planning their trip. Can you image golfing on an island in the middle of the Caribbean Sea right next to the 2nd largest coral formation in the world? Moving down the island as your play surrounded by light breezes and ocean views. Golfers around the world haven’t had the opportunity to experience such a thing in Belize before, and so we’re proud that we are creating this opportunity. I know that this is a foreign investment, can you tell me about how you decided on Belize? I started coming to Belize many many years ago and eventually got into the tourism industry when I opened my resort, El Secreto. It was pure happenstance that we found this island for sale and that were able to acquire such a marvelous piece of real estate. I have always had a deep fondness and love for Belize and the Belizean people, and I feel that through this project we are helping develop the country and the economy while simultaneously creating opportunities, namely jobs, for the people. Belize is a great choice for any investor with the country’s steady dollar value, prime location, and diverse investment opportunities. Additionally, the government is incredibly supportive in seeing potential and being proactive in making potential a reality. So how much longer before the operational phase of the project? We’re currently at a pretty advanced stage in the process as we’re finishing up all the details and paperwork required; we’re working with certain brands and construction should begin within the next couple months. To be fully operational, I think we might be looking at another 3 years. This project, unique because of all its characteristics, will be one to really put Belize on the map so its well worth the wait.

PEOPLE improving their LIVES

We connect

CONTACT US FOR A QUOTE 1746 Coney Drive Belize City, Belize P: +501.223.1070 / 223.4350 F: +501.223.1712 www.dhl.org.bz ines.cowo@dhl.com

We get it there

FAST Offering reliable delivery services throughout Belize, as well as, international ground transporation between Central America and Mexico.

19 Volume 4, 2015


Investment Generation

Tourism Energy Offshore Outsourcing Agribusiness & Agroprocessing Aquaculture & Mariculture

Located in the heart of Placencia,

Business and Investment Facilitation

Aftercare services for local and foreign investors Promotion & Administration of the Fiscal Incentive & Export Processing Zone Programmes

Comes an exciting new development generating dynamic business opportunities while involving and supporting the surrounding community.

Small Enterprise Development

One-on-one guidance to entrepreneurs Provide business related trainings & workshops to promote entrepreneurship Provide assistance in accessing financing

Trade and Export Promotion and Development

Provide trainings and technical assistance to build export readiness Identify viable export opportunities Promote Belizean products and services in international markets

Skills Training and Job Preparedness

Administer on-demand, industry-specific job preparedness trainings to sustain a qualified workforce 20

www.belizeinvest.org.bz

The Placencia Villa Plaza offers prime commercial space and intends to work with its partners to incorporate vacation rentals, restaurants, office spaces, shopping, a movie theater and fitness facilities in downtown Placencia Village. An extension of the quintessential Caribbean experience, this will be the go-to area for shopping, eating, relaxing or fun.

S PA C E S AVA I L A B L E C O N TA C T U S T O D AY

+501-630-4841 / +805-450-3504 pvplaza@bbrpllc.com wwww.bbrpllc.com @PLACENCIAPLAZA 21 Volume 4, 2015


his staff to give their guests a one-on-one personalized service for every aspect of their stay. Many of Belize’s inland attractions are only a short drive away. View all of Belize’s colorful protected birds and wildlife at the Belize Zoo, explore the Mayan underworld –floating in an inner tube on an underground river while cave-tubing at Nohoch C’hen archaeological site or go spelunking in the Actun Tunich Muchnal (ATM) Cave, go zip-lining through the tree tops, climb the Mayan temples at Xunantunich or Caracol, or simply go horse-back riding on jungle trial or paddling a canoe down the scenic Belize River. At the end of the day, relax completely with a quiet soak in an outdoor stone tub, with which each of the treehouses is equipped. Three of the tree-houses have only one king-sized bed suitable for double occupancy, but two others are family-sized units which can accommodate up to six guests. Unitedville, October 22, 2015 The axiom that less is more, that a small momand-pop operation can give better value for money than a monolith juggernaut, never held more true than at the tropical adventure paradise, Amber Sunset Jungle Resort, nestled in the rolling hills near Unitedville in the heart of the Cayo District of beautiful Belize. We became a client of the Small Business Development Centre - Belize (SBDCBelize), BELTRAIDE in May, 2015. Advising and training was obtained in the area of Marketing and Sales which enabled us to develop a marketing plan that could be implemented to meet both our local and international market needs. It is the dream of any traveler seeking a getaway-from-it-all vacation that allows them to get back to nature and get in touch with their true inner self. Feel time stand still as you waken from blissful slumber on natural, Egyptian cotton sheets on a king-sized wooden bed suspended from the ceiling of your tree house, to the sound of colorful birds singing among the tree tops, to gaze out the window upon one of the most spectacular views of Belizean countryside, 22

a verdant valley spreading below, with the distant rooftops of the Mennonite community of Spanish Lookout glistening on the horizon. Your host Giovanni Pelayo and his family operate this dream resort Giovanni got his start at the Small Business Development Centre (SBDCBelize) a unit of BELTRAIDE. “It was a pleasure working with the team at SBDCBelize. They helped us to form a solid Marketing Plan that is already reaping benefits. I hope that more entrepreneurs, in whatever field, will take advantage of their services. It will only help Belize to grow. We hope to continue a long lasting relationship with them.” Geovanni Pelayo, General Manager, Amber Sunset

Enjoy Belize’s multicultural cuisine at breakfast, lunch and supper in the resort’s restaurant, which offers with dishes typical of Belize’s Creole, Mestizo, Garifuna and Maya peoples. Supper is a 3-course meal, and the lunch menu includes Western fare such as burgers, pizza and tacos. A fullystocked bar offers international cocktails, local rums and cold Belikin, the Beer of Belize Find out more at: www.ambersunsetbelize. com or follow on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

KNOWLEDGE • EXPERIENCE • RELIABILITY

THE GREAT HOUSE, SUITE 5 # 13 CORK ST., BELIZE CITY, BELIZE WWW.VISTABELIZE.COM • +011-501-223-2427

The small yet beautiful resort has only five units, each stand-alone tree houses; but the size of their resort allows Giovanni and 23 Volume 4, 2015


in 31 countries in North, Central, and South America and the Caribbean. These are markets account for an incredibly small percentage of the arrivals into our country, so with this new carrier coming into the country and its strong ties within the region it opens Belize up to markets our country has only scratched the surface of.

Reading through this magazine, you’ll probably find that the most recurring thought is the fact that tourism, as one of the largest contributing industries to our country’s economy, is booming, thriving, flourishing, or growing depending on your author’s choice of words. It’s a fact, and has been proven by way of the Belize Tourism Board’s statistics that clearly show the industry’s growth as either being steady or as increasing. Still, when players on a much larger global scale take notice and subsequently take action to become involved, it sends waves of excitement and pride throughout the organizations and members that make up the industry. While on the topic of industries, let’s discuss the global airline industry, which although continues to grow at an incredibly rapid rate, consistent and robust profitability has been seemingly unattainable across the board for airline carriers. While that industry rakes in hundreds of billions of dollars annually, the companies that are probably the most crucial components, struggle to break even with profit margins almost less than 3%. This combined with the pressure of the increasing expectations of consumers to reduce cost, the pressure to improve operational efficiency, and the ever shifting landscape are just some of the complexities involved. The point is that for an airline carrier to expand to new routes, it is an incredibly huge deal. They have to, to a certain degree, be sure that this new route or destination is one that is profitable. Southwest and Copa Airlines have both recently decided that flying to Belize would 24

Increased routes between Belize and the U.S. and the completely new opportunity linking us to our South American and Caribbean neighbors will have a massive effect on our country’s tourism industry. It’s not just about having more flight options and lower fares, it’s about the connections that are being formed. These airlines will dramatically expand our market which will instigate massive growth within our tourism sector which will only serve to strengthen our economy. There will be a need for more hotel rooms, more tour guides, more options in preparation of the influx of visitors our country is about to see. The reality is that if all these carriers have seen the profitability of Belize, then surely the proof is in the pudding, and surely there’s much more in store for our little Belize.

in fact, be profitable. This is game changing. Dallas, Texas based Southwest Airlines, is the world’s largest low-cost carrier that carries the most domestic passengers of any U.S. airline and has scheduled service to 96 destinations including the U.S., Puerto Rico, Mexico, and most recently Belize. Our country became the airline’s second Central American destination, offering flights between Belize City’s Phillip Goldson International Airport and Houston’s Hobby Airport where they just finished building their first international terminal. The airline has big plans of offering flights from this new terminal to places such as Cabo San Lucas, Cancun, and Mexico City as a part of its international expansion. Allowing travelers 2 checked bags up to 50 pounds each at no extra charge and no change fees all at an affordable rate is one that will undoubtedly shake up the airline market in Belize. Studies have even shown that newer, smaller airlines have a significant impact on lowering the average price of a ticket where

they fly. The introduction of Southwest not only opens up the options and the market, but its benefits may extend even further to actually making traveling into and out of Belize more affordable. While Southwest is already fully operational as of October 16th, 2015, Copa isn’t too far behind as they’re set to be starting their flights between Belize and Panama in December of this year. Copa announced a couple months ago that they would begin operating two weekly flights which expands their network to one covering 75 cities

25 Volume 4, 2015


26

27 Volume 4, 2015


X’TAN HA RESORT, AMBERGRIS CAYE Courtesy, sandy point real estate

most convenient game changers in an industry whose growth is on an upward swing.

GSR

ENERGY HOLDINGS LIMITED

Another game changer emerging in the industry is that of companies offering a turn-key solution to investor groups that would like to build and operate a resort. With proven resort templates from Sandy Point Resorts, companies such as Resort Solutions Ltd. offers clients a full package that includes building costs, cash flow projections and design work that has already proven successful with the Sandy Point Resorts system. Building, owning, and running a resort has never been easier. There is no doubt that Belize is more than just an investment, it is a lifestyle of fresh seafood, friendly people, lush jungle adventures and many miles long of turquoise blue waters along one of the world’s longest Barrier Reef systems teeming with wildlife abound. DANIEL HARTIN, SANDY POINT REAL ESTATE

A famous man named Roy Rogers once said, “Find out where the people are going and invest there before they get there.” There are very few places left on earth that the human being has not discovered. With over 80 million “baby-boomers” retiring in the next 10-15 years in the United States, it is no wonder that places like Costa Rica , Mexico and the Bahamas are becoming over crowded. The cost of real estate has soared in places like the Cayman Islands where on some of the more popular beaches like 7 mile beach the price per linear foot is $100,000 USD or more. It has only been in the last 9 years that the small Central American country known as Belize has begun to surface as a new destination for retirement and investment. Just within the last 6 years since 2009 there has been a consecutive increase of overnight tourists between 6-16% per year. Due to the huge demand in tourists travelling to Belize, some of the major airlines carriers such as United Airlines, American Airlines and Delta Airlines have chosen to increase their direct flying options from Houston, Dallas, Chicago , Miami, Atlanta and LA. Just this year both Copa Airlines and Southwest Airlines have jumped on board with direct flights from Panama and Houston for as low as $300 return. Are you sensing a pattern?

28

Wit h the increase in tourism, it might be a good time for a visit , but be careful because like many before, you might never leave!

A Sustainable Energy Solution Provider with a Track Record of Perseverance since 2009

Mission: To build, own and operate a safe, environmentally friendly bio-refinery in Belize. GSR will use sugarcane, a natural resource of Belize, to produce electricity for domestic use and ethanol for export. Impacting the Triple Bottom Line in Belize: Economic Prosperity, Social Responsibility, and Environmental Stewardship

+501-523-3435 (O) +501-630-2843 (M) INFO@GSRENERGYLIMITED.NET WWW.GSRENERGYLIMITED.NET

Some world tourism studies have shown that before a destination becomes a true world destination there must be a minimum of 2000 hotel rooms available. Belize reached this pivotal number in 2013. Tourism is only one of 3 major reasons why Belize has become one of the fastest growing opportunities for investment. Belize declared its independence in 1981 and has since maintained its commonwealth status with England., but most importantly - because Belize is an English speaking country and offers an established commonwealth law, real estate investment has also benefited . Bringing with me over 20 years of real estate experience, I have been fortunate enough to bear witness to the blossoming and merging of these industries - real estate, development, tourism, and investment - here in Belize. I remember being asked what was one of the main reasons why condo resort properties have been so popular to which I responded saying that “people can enjoy the best of both worlds; they can have a place to stay when they visit and also make money by letting our management systems at the properties rent the condo to the increasing influx tourists.” This has been one of the biggest and

29 Volume 4, 2015


Grand Caribe Belize located just north of San Pedro Town on Ambergris Caye, Belize, is one of country’s premier luxury condominium resorts. This picturesque display of Belizean craftsmanship, complimented by the breathtaking view of the Caribbean Sea and majestic Barrier Reef, in its simplicity, can only be described as paradise… What started as a vision by a development group comprised of a successful Belizean business owner and a nationalized Belizean for over 15 years, has truly blossomed into what is Grand Caribe Belize. Since construction started in 2008, Grand Caribe Belize has been the fastest moving condominium resort development in the country. The resort’s consists of 76 luxury condominiums, 3 pools, one of which is the largest in the country and a swim-up bar, as well as a lobby facility. Three years later, the resort has expanded to include an additional 15 luxury condos, 3 luxury villas, 2 more pools, and a 4-storey multi-purpose building, which houses a convenient store, a conference facility, a gym, and a roof top dining experience. Words are unable to describe the experience that waits you at Grand Caribe Belize. From the rising of the sun on the

30

turquoise waters, guests enjoy the personalized services offered by the resort. From room service, to concierge bookings of trips and tours, in unit spa services, on site gym, kayaks, beach volley ball, bar service at the pool and daily housekeeping with laundry service; it truly is the experience of a lifetime. Offering Destination Wedding Packages, Conference Packages, Fishing Packages with the only IGFA (International Game Fish Association) Weighing station in the country; Grand Caribe Belize delivers. Proven resort management success is acknowledged by happy guests who enjoy their stays in immaculately maintained island condos

and common ground areas with service levels that exceed their expectations. Additionally, features on internationally acclaimed shows like “Lets Make a Deal” and consecutive awards on Trip Advisors “Top 10 Hotels in Belize” and “Top 25 Hotels in Central America”, only marks the beginning of this resort’s journey of Excellence. Whether it is a family getaway, destination wedding, business conference, fishing trip or a need to bask in the Caribbean Sea; Grand Caribe Belize can fill that need. As the vision continues with additional luxury units being constructed, further elevating the bar of excellence, what are you waiting for? A unique luxury experience, in a great Country; paradise at your fingertips.

31 Volume 4, 2015


RETIRE IN BELIZE

Bordered by Mexico in the North, Guatemala

in the West, and the Caribbean Sea in the East, Belize is a unique, vibrant country whose colonial history and geographical location give it a dual identity. The only English speaking country in Central America, just hours away from all major U.S hubs, it is no wonder that Belize continues to attract visitors, investors, and retirees. Dubbed “one of the world’s best retiree programs” by International Living, Belize is a retirement destination on the rise, with thousands of retirees, who come to Belize on their own or through our retirement program. In 2000, the Belize Tourism Board (BTB) developed the Qualified Retired Persons Incentives Program (QRP) that was geared towards sharing the Belize experience with global retired. The program allows expats from any country to relocate to Belize as a ‘Retired Resident’ if they meet the qualifying requirements. To qualify for the QRP Program, the applicant must be over 45 years and have a minimum of US$2000 income monthly. The income can be generated from investments or from pensions and annuities. Children under the age of 18 or children enrolled in college can also be included under the application, as well as the spouse of the applicant. The entire process takes about four to six weeks for approval. Retirees under the QRP program can import their personal effects and household items with duty and tax exempted for the first year of moving to Belize. The incentives, also, include duty and tax free importation of a vehicle, a boat and a light aircraft. To keep QRP status, retirees are required to spend at least one month in Belize annually. Moreover, QRPs

32

are considered non-residents for purposes of banking, which means they can open a U.S. dollar bank account with a local international bank. QRPs are, also, allowed to engage in gainful employment, as long as most of their business activity takes place outside of Belize and is conducted exclusively with non-residents of Belize. Belize’s QRPs, majority of whom are North Americans, can attest to Belize’s natural resources, stable business climate, and attractive incentives for retirees. Coupled with a booming tourist industry and significant infrastructural upgrades across the country, Belize is certainly one of the world’s best places to retire! The Qualified Retired Person (QRP) program was instituted to facilitate anyone forty-five years and older, who wishes to live in Belize and can prove a monthly income of US$2,000 through pension or annuity that has been generated outside of Belize. Once qualified, a retiree can include his or her dependents in the program. Dependents can only include spouses and children under the age of eighteen (18); it can, however, include a child up to the age of twenty-three (23), if enrolled in a university. Within one year, a retired person can import his or her personal effects and an approved means of transportation, free of all import duties and taxes. In addition, the person may also be exempt from the payment of all taxes and duties on all income or receipts, which are accrued from a source outside of Belize. A retired person can invest in a new company, but should not seek gainful employment in Belize.

33 Volume 4, 2015


Finally, putting both of the above together: once you move to Belize, you can own your business through a nonU.S. corporation and then cause your non-U.S. corporation to pay you compensation of less than about $100,000 per year. Your U.S. income tax bill on that compensation would be $0 per year. Now, of course, the above is simply an overview—this structure has some important nuances to consider, and actually making this structure work for your business would involve a detailed analysis of your exact situation. Additionally, the treatment discussed above is not available for any passive income earned by the corporation. So, if your company makes investments that earn dividends, interest, rent, or other such income, you would need to pay U.S. tax on those amounts in the year earned by the company. Finally, depending on your business, careful planning may be necessary to insure that your non-U.S. corporation is not treated as being engaged in business in the U.S. (which would subject the corporation’s earnings to U.S. tax at a very high rate). New Offshore Reporting Requirements: The U.S. tax benefits of the above structure are so great that you may be looking for the catch. Well, here it is: operating a business through a non-U.S. corporation will definitely spice up your U.S. tax return. However, and this may come as a surprise—moving or investing outside the U.S. also opens up new U.S. tax planning opportunities that wouldn’t be available if you stayed entirely on U.S. soil.

Stewart Patton, U.S. Tax Services, Belize

Making a decision to move to a new country is never easy. 2 years ago, after one too many Chicago winters, my wife and I (along with our two young children) struck out for a new life and to start a new business in the Jewel of the Caribbean. We had the usual hurdles expected with a 2,000-mile move, but in retrospect, our only regret is not doing it sooner. I’ve discovered first-hand that Belize is a great place for entrepreneurs. In Belize you’ll find stable infrastructure, a welcoming business community, a network of excellent service providers, and invaluable advice and assistance from BELTRAIDE and related government agencies. For U.S. citizens and green card holders, dealing with the IRS is another story altogether—moving or investing outside the U.S. definitely makes your life more interesting from a U.S. tax perspective.

34

New Business Structures and Tax Saving Opportunities: With proper planning and completion of annual reporting requirements, it is possible for Americans who move to Belize to completely eliminate their U.S. tax bill, completely legally. That’s right—depending on your exact situation, you can often take the same business you operate in the U.S. (and pay tens of thousands of dollars of U.S. tax on) and instead operate it while living in Belize (and pay zero U.S. tax). Here’s how to do it, step by step: First, when you live full-time outside the U.S., you can generally qualify for the “foreign earned income exclusion” (or “FEIE”). The FEIE allows you to earn up to about $100,000 per year from providing personal services without paying any U.S. tax at all. A married couple can each earn up to $100,000 per year completely free of U.S. tax. Second, when you live outside the U.S. and qualify for the FEIE, it is generally more advantageous to own your business through a non-U.S. corporation (in contrast to a limited liability company or a partnership, which are typically used for a business in the U.S.).

First, owning a non-U.S. corporation requires you to file an IRS Form 5471 with your tax return each year, which is one of the most complicated tax forms in existence. The IRS Form 5471 is in part an information return (where you simply report your ownership of the corporation’ stock) and also in part a separate tax return reporting the activity of the foreign corporation (but there’s no separate U.S. tax to pay). The complexities of the IRS Form 5471 can multiply in complicated fact patterns. Also, if you own more than 50% of a non-U.S. corporation, your IRS Form 5471 must include an income statement and balance sheet each year (which requires properly setting up an accounting system and keeping careful records). Despite these complexities, the tax benefits of operating through a nonU.S. corporation more than make up for the difficulty in filing an annual IRS Form 5471. Second, to claim the FEIE, you must attach IRS Form 2555 to your tax return each year. In fact, the FEIE can only be claimed by filing a U.S. federal income tax return with an IRS Form 2555 attached on a timely basis. In other words, if a U.S. citizen does not file a U.S. tax return and is audited, they are not allowed to go back and claim the FEIE at that point—it’s too late. Finally, there are also specific disclosure requirements related to owning non-U.S. bank accounts and similar

assets. These sorts of assets aren’t subject to any additional tax, the IRS just wants information on these assets each year. For example, an American with $10,000 in one or more non-U.S. bank accounts at any time during the year must file a Foreign Bank Account Report by June 30 of the following year. Additionally, an American with non-U.S. financial assets worth in excess of a threshold amount must attach IRS Form 8938 to their tax return each year. The threshold amount is $50,000 for single Americans living in the United States and $200,000 for single Americans living abroad, and these numbers double for married persons filing joint returns. The penalties for failing to comply with these reporting regimes can be severe—from $10,000 per year for an accidental violation up to 50% of the account balance per year if the violation is “willful.” Criminal penalties can also be imposed in exceptional circumstances. However, the IRS has several easy-to-use amnesty programs, so an accidental failure to file these forms can generally be cleaned up without paying any penalties. Where to Learn More: Planning is the key for a successful new venture in Belize, and the U.S. tax aspects are no exception. The worst time to discover a tax surprise is after it is too late to fix. I’ve written about 30,000 words on U.S. tax topics for Americans who live or invest abroad—these articles are available at www.ustax.bz. Also, I would be happy to have a half-hour no-obligation introductory call— you can schedule by emailing me at stewart@ustax.bz. I hope you enjoy your Belize adventure every bit as much as my family and I have.

STEWART PATTON U.S. Tax Attorney and Tax Return Preparer Located at The Great House in Belize City

Cross-border business structuring International investment planning and compliance Offshore IRAs

www.ustax.bz stewart@ustax.bz

35 Volume 4, 2015


and stands out. Belizean chefs such as Jennie Staines of Elvi’s Kitchen and Sean Kuylen have been at the forefront of transforming the way we think about food within the country. They are responsible for turning the culinary industry on its head and being the driving force behind the intense creativity now being applied to traditional recipes and plating styles. Hotels such as Grand Caribe and Cayo Espanto have followed suit in placing emphasis on providing their guests with culinary experiences that are world-class, Instagram worthy, while still keeping those traditional Belizean flavors.

EMAUN HYDE, MCNAB PUBLISHING LTD.

If you have travelled for the pursuit of a memorable or unique dining experience you are a culinary tourist. Whether you have travelled to India for some insanely spicy tika massala that made your eyes water, to Sicily for a life-changing wine tasting that you’ll be bragging about for years, or hopped in an uber to try out a new fried chicken joint that opened just 20 minutes from your office - you are a culinary tourist. Now, the thing about “culinary tourism” is that it’s not about how far you had to travel or whether or not the restaurant has 5 stars and the chef there has his degree from the fanciest culinary institution out there. The reality is that there are out of this world culinary experiences that happen everyday; it doesn’t matter if it’s at a food truck or from a local street vendor because the experiences found there can rank just as highly as dramatic wineries or one of a kind high-end restaurants - you know, the ones with a dress code. In Belize, those visiting our country are struck by our gastronomical offerings as they are faced with incomparable culinary experiences each time they sit down to have a meal. A fry jack and fried beans breakfast, split peas with pig tail and dumplings or cowfoot soup for lunch, an ice cold Belikin with conch fritters as an afternoon snack. These are all experiences that locals, myself included, take completely for granted because it’s so easily accessible to us on a consistent basis. Tourists, however, revel in a chance to feast on meals brimming with

36

fresh seafood, organic produce, rich spices, and delicious flavor. Belize has throughout history welcomed an incredibly fascinating parade of immigrants from all over the globe who have since been able to coexist peacefully within a small geography. This has allowed our people and by extension our culture to become something of a melting pot. Many Belizean recipes can be traced back to our provincial ancestry but has since become subject to influence from our Central American and Caribbean neighbors and infused with flavors from the diverse cultures that now call Belize home - Creole, East Indian, Garifuna, Chinese, Lebanese etc. From this combination of peoples and cultures, our gastronomy has been transformed into one with an amalgamation of flavors that may hint at familiar tastes and influences yet is absolutely nothing like anything you have experienced before. Recently, food has become somewhat of an art form or means of self expression for food enthusiasts and chefs throughout the world. Everyday thousands of food pictures are shared on instagram and twitter so the pressure is on restaurants and chefs to produce food that not only tastes great but that is also aesthetically pleasing

Still, however, there is a shortage of representation of Belizean cuisine on an international scale and it’s something that these chefs along with organizations and companies such the Belize Tourism Board and Flavors of Belize have been actively working on changing. Most recently, besides their active marketing strategies and social media campaigns, both played major roles in the first ever “See & Taste Belize” cultural exchange event in Miami, Fl. The event, whose main goal was raising funds for the first ever Pediatric & Neonatal Care Units in the country, welcomed Floridians to experience the best of Belizean art, music, and cuisine. The event, which was a complete success, will hopefully be a springboard for future cultural events throughout the U.S. to promote Belize through cultural expression. The Flavors of Belize brand, which was responsible for the food pavilion at the event, is an umbrella that creates projects and plans that highlight and promote Belizean culinary offerings and experiences. Through their annual magazine, they provide a guide for tourists in country. Through their cookbook, they share some of the most popular local recipes with the world via amazon. One of the country’s strongest social media presences, they consistently share the very best of gastronomy in the country. Recently, they start a “street food tour” series - a visual compilation of truly local culinary experiences such as tacos, meatpies, panades, and of course rice & beans, chicken & salad and the faces behind them. They have promoted some specific activities for tourists who are interested in truly engaging in culinary tourism on another level learning. Southern Belize offers the opportunity for visitors to spend time with Mayan families exploring their cacao farms and then learning to use the plant in various ways - the most popular of which is of course chocolate.

Our country is a big exporter of produce to the EU and the U.S. and the realization that people are interested in visiting and learning more - whether it’s a banana plantation or a cacao farm - has allowed a whole different set of Belizeans an opportunity to be a part of the tourism industry. The spice farm, in the Toledo district, started by Tom & Tessy Mathew originally from Kerala, India is one such attraction. Guests can take guided tours driving through acres and acres of spices such as black pepper, cinnamon, cardamum, nutmeg, and even vanilla. Scintillating scents surround you as you learn valuable information about plants that most people wouldn’t even think grew in Belize. There are countless opportunities within the culinary world here in Belize for people to immerse themselves in, it’s just a matter of promotion of these options to those thinking about visiting or those already here. The truth is that for travellers who have to eat three times a day, food ranks alongside climate, accommodations, and scenery in importance. This tiny Central American / Caribbean country is blessed to offer its visitors all the above and so much more. We invite you to visit Belize, and more importantly to realize that no trip would be complete without sampling the flavors our country has to offer.

37 Volume 4, 2015


FISCAL INCENTIVE PROGRAM

“Belize ... BIG things come in small packages” melanie gideon, general manager, enterprise and innovation, beltraide

IDEA IDEA

Belize is the perfect destination, offering a unique combination of striving business opportunities and endless vacation possibilities. This tropical paradise boasts a rich and diverse culture blended with Central American and Caribbean flavour. As the only country in Central America that has English as its official language, Belize is the perfect place for international investments. The Belize Trade and Investment Development Service (BELTRAIDE), Belize’s primary economic development agency, is not only mandated to attract and generate investment into territorial Belize, but also it is assigned to enhance the country’s competitiveness. You may be asking yourself what is the connection between investment generation and sustained competitiveness. The answer is very simple; meaningful investments cannot flourish without supporting enterprises and skilled labour. Industry and investments cannot grow without the right business support and capacity development. The Enterprise & Innovation Division at BELTRAIDE here to provide and guide that kind of support thought its three technical units: Belize Training & Employment Centre (BTEC), EXPORTBelize, and Small business Development Centre Belize (SBDCBelize). As you will see later in this issue, BTEC works closely with the BelizeINVEST unit of BELTRAIDE and the private sector to develop fast-track, industryspecific, demand-driven job-preparedness trainings; matching employment opportunities to skilled labour. Due to many accomplishments during its first year of operation, BTEC will be expanding its reach and trainings to meet the national demand. Both EXPORTBelize and SBDCBelize offer specialized export and business advising and trainings respectively to local enterprises. EXPORTBelize has been in operations for nearly 18 months and has managed to aggressively target and support over 34

38

The Fiscal Incentive Program aims to encourage genuine investment in Belize for both existing and prospective investors through the granting of Customs duty exemptions. The Program provides a legal and fiscal framework to stimulate productive economic activities that will ultimately contribute to the overall development of Belize.

WHAT DO WE NEED TO PREPARE TO APPLY? A project proposal submitted to BELTRAIDE to include the following items: • • • •

near and established exporters to develop new exportready products and gain new markets, by providing indepth assistance in production management, export market strategies, facility certifications, and access to financing. SBDCBelize, in its 3 years of operations have assisted over 600 enterprises, positively affected nearly 1000 jobs, and have helped enterprises to access over US$1 million in financing. So it has only been natural for the Government of Belize to allow BELTRAIDE to expand its operations, services, and facilities to better meet the demand of the private sector. This year, BELTRAIDE, in partnership with the University of Belize, broke ground on the Belize Enterprise and Innovation Institute (BEI2). This twenty thousand square feet facility will house two of BELTRAIDE’s technical units: EXPORTBelize and SBDCBelize, along with eight business incubators, the country’s first, training rooms, and a resource/research centre. The placement of BEI2 on the University of Belize’s Faculty of Management and Social Science Campus will allow this area to evolve into the nation’s competitiveness and innovation hub, providing the foundation for Belize’s progressive competitiveness development and pro-business investment climate. As GM of the Enterprise & Innovation Division of BELTRAIDE, my team and I welcome you to explore all the limitless possibilities of investing in beautiful Belize!

Formal Letter of Application to the Executive Director Copy of Articles of Association and Memorandum of Association Excel Listing of Items requested for Duty Exemption Economic Benefits, Financial Statements, Environmental Checklist, local Banker’s Reference/ Statement, Phases of Development, etc.

HOW LONG WILL THE APPLICATION PROCESS TAKE? Approximately 60 working days, upon full compliance of the stipulated Application Format. WHO QUALIFIES? • Company must be registered in Belize. • Business activities must provide benefits to the economy of Belize. • Government endorsed economic activities include the following: a. Tourism related activities b. Agriculture, Agro-processing, Forestry c. Aquaculture, Fisheries d. Arts, Crafts, Culture e. Health Care f. Computer, Information Technology g. Manufacturing h. Handicraft, Woodcarving, Jewelery Production i. Auto Rental WHO DISQUALIFIES FOR THIS PROGRAM? • Security Companies • Condominium Development • Casinos • Time Shares / Fractional • Wholesalers / Retailers

EXPORT PROCESSING ZONE PROGRAM The Export Processing Zone (EPZ) Program (Chapter 280 Laws of Belize) is intended to attract both local and foreign investments to boost production for export markets with a focus on services, manufactured goods and non-traditional agricultural products. An EPZ holder is treated as being outside the Customs territory of the host state, where export-oriented activities are undertaken in the manufacturing, processing, assembly, and service (exclude Tourism) sectors. WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS? • Import duty exemptions on inputs. • Import duty exemption on transport trucks, forklifts, and similar vehicles used exclusively within the EPZ. • Duty and tax exemption on diesel fuel used for energy generation purposes. • Export duty exemptions. • Exemption from capital gains tax, property tax, land tax, and taxes on trade turnover. • Exemption from excise and consumption taxes on inputs. • Exemption on General Sales Tax. • Tax holiday of twenty (20) years. • Dividend tax exemption in perpetuity. • Eligibility to open foreign currency bank accounts in Belize. • Customs inspection at the Zone for expediency. • Work permits may be granted for up to 15% of workers of the EPZ (all positions must be of senior management or technical level). • Exemptions from the Supplies Control Act and its regulations. • No import restrictions on raw materials. • No import or export licensing requirements. • Exemption from trade licenses. WHO QUALIFIES? Any private or public party, or group of parties may establish an EPZ business on property that it owns or leases within the Zone, provided it has applied for and obtained a Certificate of Compliance from the Export Processing Zone Committee (EPZC). WHAT ARE THE ELIGIBLE ACTIVITIES? Any company that would be involved in any of the following activities: processing, manufacturing, assembly, data processing, and other services (not including Tourism sector) solely for the export market. HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE? 30 working days, upon full compliance of the stipulated application requirements.

39 Volume 4, 2015


Specializing in Placencia Belize Real Estate

fully exploit the factors of production and engage in competitiveness and trade that will improve the wellbeing of CARICOM nationals and promote sustainable development. Ms. Tricia Gideon trade economist, foreign trade directorate The CARICOM Single Market and Economy is a regional development integration that should create a single market and economy among thirteen (13) CARICOM Member States through the removal of restrictions such as fiscal, legal, physical, technical and administrative. So far only the CARICOM Single Market (CSM) is in existence. Work continues by the CARICOM Secretariat to complete the implementation of the provisions of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas signed in Nassau, Bahamas in 2001.

The benefits to be accrued will directly impact CARICOM Nationals. They will have more opportunities to work, travel, and do business in twelve (12) other CARICOM countries. Consumers in the region will have access to a wider range of products at better prices and quality and enterprises will be exposed to more competition and have an incentive to provide better services and products.

www.RealEstatePlacencia.com Boris Mannsfeld & Associates is the go to expert for Placencia, Belize real estate. We are the only firm that exclusively markets property in the Placencia, Belize area. We are more than just a professional team of Real Estate experts. We are owners of property here, investors in the local businesses, developers of first class class properties here and supporters of local charity events.

Belize Office: +501 523-3063 USA: +1 303-495-5536 Info@RealEstatePlacencia.com

THE INCEPTION OF THE CSME The process of regional integration was strengthened in 1989, in Grand Anse, Grenada, when the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community decided to transform the Common Market into a Single Market and Economy. After the revision of the Treaty of Chaguaramas, Belize, Barbados, Jamaica, Guyana, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago were among the first countries to sign the first component of the CSME, that is the Caribbean Single Market (CSM) on January, 1st, 2006. The other Member States signed onto CSM in July 2006; except Haiti who signed onto it in 2010 and The Bahamas and Montserrat which are yet to sign the CSM. THE PURPOSE OF CSME The ultimate purpose is to strengthen the region’s political, financial and economic leverage in a global world that inhabits large and competitive economies. Individual small states have less negotiating power and less resources to maximize trade and investment opportunities. Caribbean countries as a group instead of individually would be able to negotiate with larger economies or other regional groupings on an equal footing. Greater negotiating power translates into acceptable trade terms, more employment opportunities, attraction of more sustainable, ecofriendly and profitable investments and the accrued benefits from economies of scale. Member States would also have access to diversified markets and have the potential capacity to fill the demands of new markets. Ultimately, the objective of the CSME is to

40

THE GENERAL FRAMEWORK OF CSME The Revised Treaty instituted a framework arranged into five (5) areas: Free Movement of Capital (money), Goods, Services and Skills and the Establishment of a Business. The Free Movement of Capital: to eliminate exchange controls, the use of one common currency and the creation of a Regional Stock Exchange. The Free Movement of Goods and Services: to eliminate trade barriers among and between CARICOM Member States and to streamline national standards to ensure acceptability of goods and services for trade. The Free Movement of Skills: to eliminate the barriers to the movement of people among and between CARICOM Member States for travel and work. The harmonizing of social services, an effective transfer of social security benefits, and establishing common systems for accreditation and equivalency will be facilitated under this area. The Free Movement to Establish a Business: to eliminate the barriers to establishing a business. For more information on how to access CSME benefits and rights contact the CSME focal person, Ms. Tricia Gideon at tricia.gideon@mft.gov.bz or foreigntrade@ btl.net at the Directorate For Foreign Trade

CHENTEC IS A CIVIL ENGINEERING CONSULTING FIRM THAT SPECIALIZES IN THE DESIGN AND ANALYSIS OF WATER, WASTEWATER, DRAINAGE AND IRRIGATION SYSTEMS.

CONTACT US 1-1/2 Miles George Price Hwy, Belize City, Belize chentec.bz@gmail.com Tel: (501) 222 5400

Cell: (501) 610 2009

41 Volume 4, 2015


BTEC: Employment Focused CHRISTINE SMITH, MANAGER, BTEC As way of bridging the gap between the employment

providing participants with the basic knowledge and

skills needed both by the pipeline of investments

skills needed to work with, and for older persons in

being brought in by BelizeINVEST and local industry

a compassionate, respectful and safe manner, while

needs with those skills being currently offered by

allowing older persons to maintain their dignity.

Belize’s labour pool, BELTRAIDE established its latest technical unit, the Belize Training and Employment

BELTRAIDE is proud to announce that it has

Centre (BTEC), a little over a year ago. What makes

partnered with the National Council on Ageing and

BTEC different from other national training entities

Sister Cecelia’s Home for the Elderly, with financial

are three fundamentally principles: 1) its on demand,

support from the Pan-American Health Organization

where all trainings are developed and approved

(PAHO), to rollout the Basics of Care-giving trainings

by a single employer or a cluster of employers; 2)

nationwide. According to the National Council on

its industry-specific, where each job preparedness

Ageing website , “Life expectancy in Belize has risen

trainings addresses specific employment skills gaps;

quite considerably and Belize is faced with the

and 3) its intense short-term, where the trainings,

prospect of its older population trebling by the year

between 3 to 8 weeks, are designed to quickly match

2050.”

employers with trained candidates. Coupled with the growing retired expat communities Since October 2014, BELTRAIDE’s BTEC has identified

throughout the country, opportunities for both

employment opportunities and subsequently trained

further investments and employment placements in

over 500 individuals to access these opportunities in

the industry are steadily increasing.

the business process outsourcing (BPO), tourism, and metal working industries. The Centre has made a mark

For further information on this training or other

for itself, where it has been able to maintain an 80%

trainings, kindly contact BTEC at (+501) 223-0322 or

employment placement for its graduates. Its latest job

btec@belizeinvest.org.bz.

preparedness training is to fill the shortage of available qualified home caregivers in Belize, both for the local and expat populations. In collaboration with a notable physician in this field of care, the Ministry of Health, and the Ministry of Human Development, Social Transformation and Poverty Alleviation, through its National Council on Ageing, BTEC has developed the nation’s first Home Caregivers Curriculum and Job Prepared Training. This training has three components: theory, first aid and CPR certification, and an internship; thereby

42

43 Volume 4, 2015


M

exico is the second largest economy in Latin America and offers immense opportunity for trade in the region. Given its proximity to Belize and the immense size of its population, with its household consumption around 69%, this market remains a contender for being one of Belize’s top trading partner. Mexico’s membership in NAFTA has been followed by a production shift which sees them engaging in manufactured components for the automobile, aviation and tech industry. This shift has opened the door for Belize to supply commodities for its domestic population given that Belize is a primary producer of a basket of agricultural products for which there is significant demand in Mexico. Products such as cattle, grains, shrimps and meat products can fill the void in the Mexican market and can also act as high quality inputs into the Mexican Value Chain. While this is the platform on which Belize is pressing for a formal agreement with Mexico, there are other opportunities for services trade and niche products amongst the medium to high income population in Quintana Roo, Yucatan and Campeche. In addition, the transportation network, which includes both developed road and port infrastructure, is ideal for moving cargo between the two countries. The assessment of Mexico as a trade partner has yielded positive results and officials at Belize’s Ministry of Trade, Investment Promotion, Private Sector Development and Consumer Protection have been forging forward towards a Partial Scope Agreement (PSA) on trade with Mexico. A PSA, as opposed to a full fledge trade agreement, would take into consideration the asymmetries that exist in development level and size between the two economies. The negotiation, which is currently underway, also includes provisions for a Bilateral Investment Treaty and mutual recognition of professional qualifications. Pursuing a PSA between Belize and Mexico, also has positive implications for Belize as a member of CARICOM. Given our geographic proximity and a longstanding diplomatic 44

relationship with Mexico, any agreement signed with Mexico will catapult us ahead of other CARICOM countries and may strengthen our position as a bridge between CARICOM and Latin America. This positioning also offers Mexican businesses improved trade and investment prospects in the CARICOM region. While the PSA is still being negotiated, Belize is engaging in a number of activities to build trade relations with its neighbor as well as to prepare its private sector. The Embassy of Belize in Mexico partnered with EXPORTBelize to hosts a sensitization session on the intricacies of exporting to Mexico and navigating through the export processes in that market. BELTRAIDE also signed an MOU with ProMexico that sets out the procedures of cooperation for the expansion of investment and trade relations between the two countries, including the strengthening of institutional relations, capacity building and information exchange. The recent developments at the Belize-Mexico border speaks to the exchange between the two countries that has seen growth over the years and that is expected to grow even further. The tourism industry is also poised to become a key beneficiary from improved bilateral relations. The Mesoamerican Biological Corridor is world renowned for its biodiversity and offers an opportunity for symbiotic agreements between Belize and Mexico, which will no doubt enhance the tourism product for both parties. The two countries also share a Mayan heritage that can unify efforts in the promotion of culture and tradition. There are geographic, economic and cultural factors that offers tremendous potential for development of joint tourism packages. With a signed agreement, both Belize and Mexico will benefit from improved market access for goods and services, enhanced cooperation in tourism and overall improvements in the ease of doing business between the two countries.

45 Volume 4, 2015


DIRECTORY 1.1 BelizeINVEST The role of the BelizeINVEST branch is to foster investor confidence leading to prosperous establishments and the propagation of socio-economic benefits in Belize. This is done by maximizing investment opportunities in key niche areas under the various growing priority industries in Belize; building relationships and connecting investors with key public and private sector decision makers and supporting organizations and additionally by enhancing Belize’s competitiveness through advocating for market-driven pro-investment policies. 1.2 Business and Investment Facilitation This unit, a part of the BelizeINVEST branch, provides assistance to local and foreign investors and enterprises of all sizes to address issues relating to establishing and operating a business in Belize. This unit liaises with both the private and public sectors to try to eliminate existing road blocks and interferences business owners may face while also promoting policies that endorses a business environment conducive to investment. The unit is also responsible for administering and promoting Government Incentive Programs, such as Fiscal Incentives (FI), duty exemptions and tax holidays or the Export Processing Zone (EPZ) that may in fact increase production for companies catering specifically to qualified export markets. 2.0 SBDCBelize The Small Business Development Center, SBDCBelize, provides customized needs-based services to micro, small, and medium enterprises to facilitate competitiveness and export readiness. As an organization that primarily supports and assists small businesses, the unit provides business advisory services, technical assistance, and encourages entrepreneurship at all levels. 3.0 EXPORTBelize EXPORTBelize works to foster an environment that promotes diversification and competitiveness of Belize’s export sector through advertising and marketing of Belizean products and services along with needs based capacity building initiatives. EXPORTBelize assists enterprises in the planning and preparation for internationalization and in acquiring the know-how of finances, regulations, and systems necessary to enter export markets. Through targeted market research, the unit develops awareness of export opportunities, identifies viable export markets and facilitates matchmaking with buyers, suppliers and other development partners. There are scores of reasons why and advantages to investing in Belize, and as an organization that works to promote business and investment by offering assistance and facilitation to clients, both local and international, we’re here to help guide you every step of the way.

Suite 401, The Matalon, Coney Drive/P.O. Box 1846, Belize City, Belize www.BelizeLawyer.com info@BelizeLawyer.com Tel: (501).223.0088 / (501).223.0858 Fax: (501).223.6403

International Cross Border Investment Law Tax Structuring and Corporate Law Local Permitting and Licenses Belize Retirement Program Intellectual Property Real Estate

Routinely relied upon by Beltraide and presently retained for two of Belize and Beltraide's largest investors representing FDI in Belize in excess of USD$ 150M.

Denys A. Barrow S.C., C.B.E. E. Andrew Marshalleck Jr. S. C. Liesje Barrow Chung LL.B., C.L.E. Naima Barrow LL.B. (Hons), C.L.E.

1440 Coney Drive, P.O. Box 63, Belize City, Belize E-mail: barrowco@btl.net

Tel: 501-223-5900 501-223-5903 501-223-5908 Fax: 501-223-5913

104 Orchid Garden, City of Belmopan, Belize Phone: (501)822.3737 Fax: (501)822.0595 www.belizeinvest.org.bz publicrelations@belizeinvest.org.bz

investment@belizeinvest.org.bz

exportbelize@belizeinvest.org.bz College Street, West Landivar, University of Belize Faulty of Management and Social Sciences, Belize City, Belize Phone: (501)223.3195 Fax: (501)223.7427 sbdcbelize@belizeinvest.org.bz

Atlantic Bank Ltd. Corner Cleghorn Street & Freetown Road, P.O. Box 481, Belize City, Belize www.atlabank.com atlantic@atlabank.com Tel: (501).223.4123 Fax: (501).223.4114

46

47 Volume 4, 2015


40A Central American Blvd., Belize City, Belize www.grantthornton.bz info@gt.bz.com Tel: (501).227.3020

BELIZE TOURISM BOARD

Placencia Village, Placencia, Stann Creek www.realestateplacencia.com info@realestateplacencia.com Tel: (501).523.3063/(303).495.5536 Fax: (251).725.9420

Placencia Village, Stann Creek, Belize www.bbrpllc.com pvplaza@bbrpllc.com Tel: (501).630.4841 / (805).450.3504

CARIBBEAN SHIPPING AGENCIES, LTD.

ENERGY HOLDINGS LIMITED

MAHOGANY BAY VILLAGE

Mile 3, Spanish Lookout Road, Iguana Creek, Cayo, Belize www.belizenaturalenergy.bz info@belizeenergy.bz Tel: (501).823.0354 Fax: (501).823.0415

1½ Miles Phillip S.W. Goldson Highway, Belize City, Belize www.moorestephens.bz info@moorestephens.bz Tel: (501).223.2144 Fax: (501).223.2143

St. Thomas Street, Belize City, Belize www.belizetelemedia.net www.digicell.bz Tel: (501).223.8316/ 0-800-CALL-BTL Fax: (501).223.1800

The Matalon Business Center, Suite # 501, Coney Drive, P.O.Box 2130, Belize City, Belize www.offshoregroupbelize.com MD@oslbelize.com Tel: (501).223.1756 Fax: (501).223.1775

117 Albert Street, Belize City, Belize www.csabelize.com stanlong@btl.net Tel: (501).227.5444 / 227.5443 / 227.3015 Fax: (501).227.7681

122 Eve Street, P.O. Box 2205, Belize City, Belize www.lawyerbelize.com info@lawyerbelize.com Tel: (501).223.2030/(501).223.2031 Fax: (501).223.2032 ATTORNEYS AT LAW

NOTARIES PUBLIC/TRADEMARK & PATENT AGENTS

1½ Mile George Price Highway, Belize City, Belize chentec.bz@gmail.com lucienchung@gmail.com Tel: (501).222.5400 Cell: (501).610.2009

40 Barrier Reef Drive, San Pedro Town, Ambergris Caye, Belize www.sandypointrealestate.com daniel.hartin@gmail.com Tel: (501).610.1978 U.S Tel: (512).549.2078

Dangriga, Stann Creek, Belize, C.A www.belizeproperty.com info@belizeproperty.com Tel: (501).523.7299 / (501).636.7750

#21 St. Vincent Street, North Piscini, Belmopan, Belize www.santandersugar.com info@santandersugar.com Tel: (501).822.1777

Bliss Parade, City of Belmopan, Cayo, Belize www.dfcbelize.org info@dfcbelize.org Tel: (501).822.2350 Fax: (501).822.3096

#13 Cork Street, Belize City, Belize P.O. Box 2651 www.ustax.bz stewart@ustax.bz Tel: (501).629.6007

Caye Financial Center, 1st Floor Cor. Hurricane Street & Coconut Drive San Pedro Town, Ambergris Caye, Belize www.georgetowntrust.com concierge@georgetowntrust.com Tel: (501).226.3569 / (616).432.9553

48

GSR

11 Sunset Drive, Placencia, Stann Creek, Belize www.gsrenergylimited.net info@gsrenergylimited.net Tel: (501).523.3435 U.S Tel: (219).798.0799

The Great House, 13 Cork Street, Suite 5, Belize City, Belize www.vistabelize.com info@vistabelize.com Tel: (501).223.2427 / (501).610.1404 Fax: (501).223.2228

49 Volume 4, 2015


50

51 Volume 4, 2015


M I L L I N G

S T A R T S

F E B R U A R Y

2 0 1 6

Since 2008, The Santander Group has had the opportunity to make Belize their home as they establish a new sugar mill in Western Belize. Built on integrity and responsibility and with development, job creation, education and community well-being at the forefront, The Santander Group currently employs over 70% of Belizeans on their workforce. To ďŹ nd out more visit us at:

www.santandersugar.com or follow us on

Santander Sugar | #21 St. Vincent Street, Belmopan, Belize | Ph: 822-1777 52

INVESTBelize vol 4  

Vol 4 of Belize's premiere investment and trade magazine.

INVESTBelize vol 4  

Vol 4 of Belize's premiere investment and trade magazine.