Commercial Free Zone imports down 33% in'09

Imports to the Corozal Free Zone fell close to $127 million or about 33% in 2009, CFZ director David Akerman informed the CFZ Management Authority at its annual general meeting last Wednesday, July 7.

Akeirman said when there is a fall of imports, it indicates a fall of sales and, by inference, a fall of visitors. The drop in business was highlighted when CFZ Board of Directors presented reports to investors and members of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the management authority at the meeting.

The financial figures reported by the management authority indicate that 2009 was not a good year for CFZ investors; largely attributable to the global economic recession and partly to the N1H1 virus scare.

He said since the beginning of the year they have seen a 3% rebound in CFZ economic activity. Investors remain confident and no companies have closed down in the zone. There are 290 companies presently operating in the zone.

The CFZ Authority's main income comes from the gate collection: $1.80 per vehicle.

The zone had to be closed for five days as a precautionary measure for the N1H1 virus, resulting in an estimated $1 million loss in sales.

Akeirman said the financial sheet showed the CFZ Authority made a net profit of $250,000 in 2009. In 2008, they made just over $900,000.

Akeirman said several investors have applied to set up companies in the Zone, including a tobacco company which has shown interest of setting up a facility to produce and supply the Central American market.

Mexico is already bouncing out of the recession, Akeirman noted. The zone is also tapping into the Central American market, which includes Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua with exports of alcohol and luxury products, while clothes and footwear are exported to the Cuban market.

Live and let live