Preferential market arrangements - where developed countries paid higher prices for exports from under-developed countries have been all but outlawed in the free trade era.

And now the government of Belize says it's high time it develops a trade strategy that reflects that reality. And so today the Ministry of Foreign Trade launched the first ever Aid for Trade Strategy conference, at the Radisson Fort George Hotel. It is designed to support the government in the identification of priorities for building trade capacity, the development and monitoring of an evaluation mechanism and the initiation of dialogue with donors and investors, both local and foreign. But there are many challenges - and here are just a few:

Hon. Wilfred Elrington: Minister of Foreign Affairs
"The high cost of our labor, the high cost of our electricity, the energy are part of the problem that we are faced with of course we are also face with the problem that we don't have skill personnel. We have expensive transportation, other cost, and we have poor harbor facilities, not efficient. So that we have number of weaknesses that are preventing us from being as effective and as competitive as we can be but the good news this program is in fact designed, this launch today is in fact to designed to deal with those problems to see how we can get the resources both technical and financial to remedy those situation, that is what this launch is all about today. We recognize the limitations and we are working assiduously to correct them."

Alexis Rosado: CEO Min of Foreign Affairs
"With the respect of cost of production, it is true that Belize is a high cost economy, in fact we were talking in the meetings and somebody made the point that labor costs are 1/3 less or 1/3 the cost in the regions at it is in Belize labor alone and we have to compete with the same countries, they produce similar produces than we do."

Krista Lucenti: I.D.B.
"We have at the IDB we have already pick up on one of the projects identified in the action matrix, we will be funding a transport and trading facilitation assessment which falls under the infrastructure and trade facilitation priority that the Government have setup so we would already be pick in up one of those and will be funding that assessment to identify what exactly what are some of the infrastructure cost, the transport cost to have a better idea. Not just the actual financial cost but what are the economic cost of delays at borders and at the port so already just to say that the projects and the activities identified by the government of Belize has been a large help to us in working with them on the pipeline for projects for IDB assistance."

Belize's Aid for Trade Strategy draws from other national strategies and plans, in order to highlight common objectives and needs which are important to building trade and export capacity.

Channel 7