El Salvador is looking for a trade gateway to the Caribbean - and it has turned to Belize. Preliminary talks towards this are beign held this week at the San Ignacio Resort Hotel. It's the first round of negotiations for a partial scope agreement between Belize and El Salvador - and Trade CEO Mike Singh told the Press Office what makes Belize attractive:

Mike Singh - CEO, Ministry of Trade
"Today really, is preliminary. We're sort of setting the stage for the items we will be discussing. We will start reviewing some of the list of items that will be permitted under this agreement. This agreement, we're hoping, will sort of be a little bit different because we're looking at including services as an integral part of the agreement."

Carlos Moreno - Trade Police Director, El Salvador
"We know that we're in a position now that we have to diversify our products, diversify our destinations for our exports in the Caribbean. It's very important to us within this plan that we're facing now; we would like to expand our products to countries like Belize, Trinidad and Tobago, the Dominican Republic, Cuba - in that direction. We are trying to conduct negotiation for preferential treatment for our products with these countries."

Mike Singh
"As you know, we're a large participant in CARICOM, and we've always talked about this bridge where Belize would be the bridge between CARICOM and Central America. Today, the center of the discussion, I believe, will be around how can El Salvador, through this trade agreement, not only look at Belize as a market for them to access, but as CARICOM and Mexico's markets for them to access. We will of course be very cautious to be sure that many of the products and services that are produced in Belize are protected in as much as we can do that. And our goal is to extend the access for Salvadoran companies to enter into our market at a protracted date, while Belize gets immediate access on most items."

Carlos Moreno
"Instead of facing competition with Belizean industries, we know that we have complimentary relationships. Some products that you produce, we don't produce it in El Salvador, and the other way around. We can provide you with the products that I mentioned before without competing with Belizean industries."

Belize already has a partial scope agreement with Guatemala. Under the terms of the CSME, Belize has to get waivers from Caricom to enter into partial scope agreements.

Channel 7