Discussions Underway About Re-opening Corozal Free Zone

Posted By: Marty

Discussions Underway About Re-opening Corozal Free Zone - 12/03/20 11:58 AM

One thing we didn't see in the Cabinet brief is the discussion over the possible time frame to re- open the Corozal Free Zone.

It was a manifesto promise by the PUP- and discussions with the new board are underway. They are discussing the possibility of a possible December date for opening - but there is some uncertainty over whether it is practical to implement COVID rapid testing of Mexican shoppers.

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Posted By: Marty

Re: Discussions Underway About Re-opening Corozal Free Zone - 12/04/20 07:05 PM

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Meeting Held to Discuss Re-opening of the Corozal Free Zone

On Thursday, December 3, 2020, Hon. Jose Abelardo Mai, the Minister of Agriculture, Food Security and Enterprise and other officials of the Ministry of Agriculture met with representatives from the Ministry of Health and Wellness and the Chamber of Commerce of the Corozal Free Zone to discuss the re-opening of the Northern Free Zone.

The meeting was held in an atmosphere of cordiality as the discussion focused on the details of the operation and health measures that must be put in place if the Free Zone is re-opened. Minister Mai committed to ensuring that Government looks after the interest of investors and the public to safeguard the health of all while keeping in mind the need of the country to deal with the economic difficulties brought on by COVID-19.

Investors agreed to cooperate to fast track the opening of the Corozal Free Zone as promised by the Prime Minister Hon. John Briceño. The plan will be expedited and taken to Cabinet for discussion and final approval.
Posted By: Marty

Re: Discussions Underway About Re-opening Corozal Free Zone - 12/05/20 11:55 AM

Government Initiates Talks To Open Free Zone

The gates of the Corozal Free Zone have been shut since March, with its future in limbo as the Barrow Administration did not have any intentions to reopen it. But, the PUP promised to re-open it, and today, they took the first steps to doing so.

The Minister in charge of Enterprise, Jose Mai, along with representatives from the Ministry of Health and Wellness, met with the Chamber of Commerce of the Corozal Free Zone yesterday to discuss the way forward.

Today, Minister Mai gave our colleagues at CTV3 an update on that meeting. He spoke about the importance of reopening the free zones, both as a means of revenue generation and employment creation - balanced against the legitimate concerns about COVID transmission:

Jose Mai, Minister, Agriculture, Food Security, Enterprise
"The timeline will be decided by the business owners in the freezone. The plan was presented ot them yesterday. The plan includes, from what I understand, there are approximately 135 to 150 businesses operating in the free zones, small, medium and large. The plan included OIRSA who will take on some of the responsibilities, some of the spraying, and the sterilization so to speak. They would do vehicles, they would also do fumigation of humans through the tunnel, a walk through tunnel, the vehicles would be fumigated, and prior to entering the zone, temperatures will be checked from the people entering the freezone. There will be also people within the freezone walking and at random taking temperatures from people in the stores. The stores are only allowed to employ ? of its employees. After every vehicle is fumigated through the fumigation tunnel, a ticket will be given for a person to enter the freezone. We will have people monitoring if there are persons feeling ill, they quickly inform us and the temperatures are checked and actions are taken right away."

Mai said the cost of reopened operations would be less than $200,000, and that the businesses would split the cost. There is no date set as yet, but this will be high on the agenda at Cabinet's meeting on Tuesday. The plan that we have heard is to push for an opening close to Christmas - but many zone insiders feel that is not realistic.

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CFZ to Benefit from Chetumal also Becoming a Free Zone

While it has been announced that neighboring Chetumal will also be transformed into a commercial free zone to generate much needed economic activity in that part of Mexico, there are questions concerning the possible effects such a move would have on our local economy, including revenue generated at the Corozal Free Zone.

Anil Hotchandani, Vice Chairman, Corozal Free Zone

“I think it’s going to be a win-win situation.  Yes, it might impact the Belize economy because you are hearing about Chetumal dropping the tax in half.  They are planning to cut it from sixteen to eight, I believe, and they are planning to open it up to certain imports.  Remember, there are many things that the free zone imports that it‘s not going to be the same thing in Chetumal.  It‘s going to be different.  Belizeans will benefit from buying in the supermarkets there and the malls there because the tax is being basically cut.  This is what my understanding is, it is what Chetumal was twenty-five or thirty years ago, compared to the entire country of Mexico, the state of Quintana Roo had a preferential rate for imports and for taxes.  They are going back to that basically to revive their economy.  But I see more people from Campeche, from Yucatan and all, coming to Chetumal to shop also because they‘ll be stretching their peso and at the same time, when Chetumal is going to have an influx of their own Mexicans coming from various other parts, the free zone will benefit from that visitation.”

No Foreign Exchange to be Used

Contrary to previous reports in other areas of the media regarding the purported shortage of foreign exchange on the local market, a check with the relative parties has proven otherwise.  News Five has been made to understand that Caribbean Investment Holdings Limited, the parent company of Belize Bank, is not relying on the local banking sector in order to execute the sale of Scotiabank Limited.  In fact, the purchase of those shares will come from C.I.H.L.’s external resources and absolutely no foreign exchange from Belize will be used to complete the transaction.

Channel 5

Posted By: Marty

Re: Discussions Underway About Re-opening Corozal Free Zone - 12/10/20 11:26 AM

Free Zone Opening By Christmas?

And while the cattle exports are going to Mexico - and Mexican shippers coming here for Christmas? As we've reported there is a push for the Free Zone to open - in spite of the COVID realties.

Well, cautious critics be damned, it is not too late for that goal to be reached. Today, the Minister of Enterprise, Jose Mai updated us on the process.

We previously reported that Minister Mai met with the management of the Free Zone, who in turn needed to meet with their members. According to Mai, they are expecting the answer from that meeting today.

Jose Mai, Minister of Agriculture
"Yesterday I understand that the business community, the chamber in freezone met to decide precisely the plan that we had develop. There is a cost to the plan, so that's what they were discussing yesterday. I am certain that by now they should have come up with a response if they will buy into the plan and if they will agree to open the freezone. I suspect that they will, that's my belief, but again it is they who have that decision. But by the end of today we will know."

The Free Zone has been closed for almost nine months, and it is the Ministry's hope that reopening it will allow for foreign exchange and revenue to circulate within the country.

Channel 7

Posted By: Marty

Re: Discussions Underway About Re-opening Corozal Free Zone - 12/25/20 11:51 AM

Corozal Free Zone Won’t Reopen This Year

The Corozal Free Zone will not reopen this year. The Briceño Administration was adamant in reopening the free zone before Christmas but the Corozal Free Zone Chamber Commerce would not absorb the cost of a plan that would have been implemented if the free zone would have been reopened this month. Minister Jose Mai who led the negotiations says that Cabinet decided to hold the reopening after the results of the new quarantine regulations are studied.

Jose Mai, Minister of Agriculture, Food Security & Enterprise

“That was a decision by Cabinet. It is on hold because of the spikes we had in the last weeks, the spikes in the COVID-19 infections and the rate of spread. Cabinet’s decision was to hold on after the holidays to see if the measures we are putting in place right now will flatten the curve and we can move from there. We have to take in to consideration the rate of spread. We have to wait until January, maybe the fifteenth of January there around to see the effects of the measures we put in place and after that we will revisit. But I suspect that we are going to open in January, sometime in January.”

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