BELTRAIDE says this is one of many new investments

Sugar cane production is in full swing for this year's crop.

Contrary to what some may suggest, the S&P downgrades have not reduced the quantity of investments in Belize, as several new investors-including a new sugar producer, are set and ready to establish operations in Belize, Mike Singh, the executive director of Belize Trade and Investment Services (BELTRAIDE) told The Reporter on Monday, March 5.

Green Tropics Limited, a Guatemalan-based company, has already invested approximately $12 million in land for sugar production.

Singh said the company, which has already submitted applications for them to construct a new factory within the next two years, intends to run "their own sugar mill."

"The company's operations won't affect the local farmers at all," Singh assured. He said the company will not compete in the same markets as BSI, and also intends to do their own production and process their own cane.

Green Tropics Limited is only one of several "new major investors" that have expressed keen interest in either Belize's sugar, citrus or livestock industry.

In addition to Green Tropics Limited, Singh said that a Florida-based company also plans to relocate its citrus production to Belize.

In both cases he explained that some amendments to the current legislations that govern the sugar and the citrus industry may be necessary in order to proceed, but, nonetheless, he is optimistic that these investments will help to move the country forward.

Regarding livestock, Singh said that cattle exports from Belize to Mexico are weeks away, as Belize has been able to finalize an interim agreement with the Mexican government.

Singh said: "I expect to see a lot of growing interest in the cattle market, because the United States has a shortage of cattle and they've been buying up a lot of Mexican cattle, which is why there is a demand for Belizean cattle in Mexico.

"We've cut through the bureaucracies, and we should be see legal shipments of cattle being exported from Belize to Mexico in the coming weeks."

While Singh highlighted the advancements in the agricultural industry, he also pointed out that the total number of foreign investments have been steadily increasing despite the global recession of 2008.

He pointed out that investments have grown from $30.06 million in 2008 to $389.81 million in 2011, with foreign investments making up approximately 24 percent (over $92 million) of the latter figure as compared to $12 million in foreign investments in 2008.

Singh said that 2011's foreign investments rivals the previous administrations' 2007 pre-recession figures of $93 million in foreign investments.

Regarding investment numbers under the previous administration, Singh said, "In 2008, after the last elections, we found that there were some very large projects that were given approval under the past government ... some of them never came to fruition, so the real numbers for development projects were very little."

He also explained that local investors have been playing a major role in the total amount of investments. In 2010 and 2011, local investors had contributed over $110 and $297 million respectively.

The Reporter