A number of Mexican newspapers are claiming that many Mexican businessmen operating in the Corozal Free Zone are closing down their businesses and abandoning the Free Zone. Names of stores were not mentioned, but those noted were clothing and novelty stores.
Officials at the Mexican Embassy in Belize City did not deny that this is happening when we spoke to them this afternoon.
The Consular officer at the Mexican Embassy told us that it is an individual choice of the businesses to end operations in the Northern Free Zone, and such choices have nothing to do with the Mexican Government. He said that the Mexican government has not applied any pressure on the businesses to prompt them to move.
The Consular officer told us that there are a number of factors that are causing the businessmen to cease operations.
Firstly, sales of some of their products, which are of inferior quality, have been low.
Secondly, the value of the American dollar, which constantly fluctuates, has been high, and as a result a large amount of Mexican pesos must be exchanged in order to obtain American dollars, in order to purchase cheap goods.
Also, there is no banking system in the Free Zone that accepts Mexican pesos. When the businessmen take Mexican pesos to the banks in Mexico, a declaration must be made and taxes must be paid, which is another blow to them.
CTV 3 News says that the Por Esto newspaper in Quintana Roo this week pointed out that another factor affecting businesses, apart from the devaluation of the Mexican currency, is the slow economy in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo.
The Consular officer said that although the sale of liquor, cigars, perfumes, clothing, and footwear is relatively satisfactory, and anyone can buy a carton of cigarettes and one liter of rum without paying taxes in the Free Zone, these sales are not enough to keep their businesses afloat.
The Consular officer further noted that the businessmenís choice to close their operations is not a problem, but what is now a problem is the contraband that is being trafficked on both sides, from Belize to Chetumal and from Chetumal to Belize.
This is being studied and the governments of both Belize and Mexico are trying to find ways to combat the trafficking of contraband goods.Amandala