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Belize

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment

Policies Towards Foreign Direct Investment

While the Government of Belize is interested in attracting foreign direct investment (FDI), certain regulatory requirements serve to impede growth and transparency.

There are no laws that explicitly discriminate against foreign investors. In practice, however, investors complain that they do not always receive the full extent of the incentives available, that land titles are not always reliably secure, and that bureaucratic delays or corruption can be hindrances to starting a business in Belize. There is a sense among investors that incentives are administered in an ad hoc manner, with frequent delays or payments not issued as originally guaranteed.

According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Belize’s attractiveness to foreign investors could be improved by reducing the cost of doing business, particularly the costs of inputs (energy, transportation and telecommunications), and combating crime.

The Belize Trade and Investment Development Service (BELTRAIDE; www.belizeinvest.org.bz ), a statutory body of the Government of Belize, is the investment and export promotion agency. BELTRAIDE promotes FDI through various types of incentive packages and identified priority sectors for investment as agriculture, agro-processing, aquaculture, light manufacturing, food processing and packaging, tourism and tourism-related industries, business process outsourcing (BPOs), and renewable energy.

The Government created the Economic Development Council to increase the national dialogue on private sector development and better inform policies for growth and development. The Cabinet has also created a Sub–Committee on Investment composed of Ministers whose portfolios are directly involved in considering and approving investment proposals.

Limits on Foreign Control and Right to Private Ownership and Establishment

Generally, Belize has no restrictions on foreign ownership and control of companies; however, foreign investments in Belize must be registered at the Central Bank of Belize. In addition, foreigners will need to apply with a Belizean partner or someone with a permanent residence to be able to register a business name.

Some investment incentives show preference to Belizean-owned companies. For example, the Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) Fiscal Incentive, offered by BELTRAIDE, stipulates that an entity applying for benefits under the SME incentive must have a minimum of 51 percent Belizean ownership. If this condition is met, the incentive provides for a lower application fee structure.

According to the Belize Tourism Board (http://www.travelbelize.org ), a company must have a minimum of 51 percent Belizean ownership to qualify for a Tour Operator License. This qualification is negotiable particularly in the event a tour operation would expand into a new sector of the market and does not result in competition with local operators.

Foreign investments in Belize must be registered and obtain an “Approved Status” from the Central Bank in order to facilitate inflows and outflows of foreign currency. “Approved Status” investments will ordinarily be granted approval for repatriation of funds from profits, dividends, loan payments, and interest. The Central Bank reserves the right to request evidence-supporting applications for repatriation.

Additionally, persons seeking to open a bank account must also comply with Central Bank regulations, which differ based on residency status and whether the individual is seeking to establish a local bank account or a foreign currency account.

The Government of Belize’s Cabinet Sub-Committee on Investment considers investment projects which do not fall within Belize’s incentive regime or which may require special considerations. For example, an investment may require legislative changes, a customized memorandum of understanding or agreement from the government, or a public–private partnership. Proposals are generally assessed based on size, scope, and subsidy requested. In addition, proposals are assessed on a five-point system that analyses socio-economic acceptability of the project, revenues to the government, employment, foreign exchange earnings and environmental considerations. The Cabinet Sub-Committee is composed of five Cabinet-level officials of government including the minister with responsibility over Investment, Trade and Commerce as Chairperson. The other members include the ministers with responsibility for Tourism and Culture; the Environment and Sustainable Development; and Natural Resources and Immigration, along with the Attorney General. There is no set timeframe for considering projects as this would largely depend on the nature and complexity of the project.

When considering investment, foreign investors undertaking large capital investments must be aware of Belize’s environmental laws and regulations. There is a requirement to prepare an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) when a project meets certain land area, location, and/or industry criteria. When purchasing land or planning to develop in or near an ecologically sensitive zone, it is recommended that the EIA fully address any measures by the investor to mitigate environmental risks. Environmental clearance must be obtained prior to the start of site development. The Department of Environment website, http://www.doe.gov.bz  has more information on the Environmental Protection Act and other regulations, applications and guidelines.

In 2015, the Caribbean Court of Justice issued its landmark decision issuing a consent order to the Government to create “an effective mechanism to identify and protect Mayan customary land rights.” The parties have still not decided how and when to implement the court ruling because of disagreement between the government and the Maya communities.

Other Investment Policy Reviews

In the past three years, there has been no investment policy review of Belize by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) or the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). Belize concluded its third Trade Policy Review in the World Trade Organization (WTO) in April 2017.

Business Facilitation

Belize does not operate a single window registration process. The Belize Companies Corporate Affairs Registry (tel: (501) 822 0421; email: belizecompaniesregistry@yahoo.com; website: www.belizecompaniesregistry.gov.bz ) is responsible for the registration process of all business and companies.

Businesses must also register with the tax department to pay business and general sales tax. They must also register with their local city council or town board to obtain a trade license to operate a business. An employer should also register employees for social security. The 2018 Doing Business report (http://www.doingbusiness.org ) estimates it takes on average 43 days to start up a company in Belize. The same report ranks Belize at 121 of 190 economies on the ease of starting a business.

Belize also has offshore business services legislation, which allows offshore banking, and the establishment of International Business Companies (IBCs) and trusts. In 2017, the IBC Act was amended to allow, inter alia, for the elimination of bearer shares as well as the requirement for companies to maintain a register of directors and a register of beneficial owners. For more information on Belize’s offshore financial sector visit http://www.ibcbelize.com/ .

BELTRAIDE (http://www.belizeinvest.org.bz/ ), a statutory body of the Government of Belize, operates as the country’s investment and export promotion agency. Its investment facilitation services are open to all investors. While there are support measures to advance greater inclusion of women and minorities in entrepreneurial initiatives and training, the business facilitation measures do not distinguish by gender or economic status.

Outward Investment

The government does not promote or incentivize outward investments. Domestic investors are not restricted from investing abroad. However, the Central Bank places currency controls that limit foreign currency outflows.

2. Bilateral Investment Agreements and Taxation Treaties

Belize has Bilateral Investment Treaties with Austria, Cuba, El Salvador, Italy, the Netherlands, the People’s Republic of China- Taiwan and the United Kingdom. Belize also has a Partial Scope Agreement (PSA) with Guatemala on a small number of goods. Belize does not have a bilateral investment treaty and neither is it a party to a Free Trade Agreement with the United States. It is a qualifying country under the U.S. Generalized System of Preference (GSP) as well as the U.S. – Caribbean Basin Trade Partnership Act (CBTPA). For additional information on Belize’s Bilateral Investment Treaties, see http://www.sice.oas.org .

Bilateral Taxation Treaties

Belize has signed twenty Tax Information Exchange Agreements (TIEA) with Australia, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Faroe Islands, Finland, France, Greenland, Iceland, India, Ireland, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, and United Kingdom. Belize has no bilateral taxation treaties with the United States.

3. Legal Regime

Transparency of the Regulatory System

Regulatory authority exists both at the local and national levels with national laws and regulations being most relevant to foreign businesses. The government publishes a Gazette that includes proposed as well as enacted laws and regulations. Government ministries also make available policies, laws, and regulations pertinent to their portfolio available on their respective ministry websites. Since 2016, enacted laws have been published on the website of the National Assembly. There is usually a delay updating the website.

Despite these measures, some investors complain that the regime for incentives did not always meet their needs, that land titles are not always reliable and secure, and that bureaucratic delays or corruption can be hindrances to doing business in Belize.

There are quasi-governmental organizations mandated by law to manage specified regulatory processes on behalf of the Government of Belize, e.g. the Belize Tourism Board, BELTRAIDE, and the Belize Agricultural Health Authority. There are no reports that these processes significantly distort or discriminate against foreign investors.

The cabinet dictates government policies that are enacted by the legislature and implemented by the various government ministries. Regulations exist at the local level, primarily relating to property taxes and registering for trade licenses to operate businesses in the municipality.

Accounting, legal, and regulatory systems are consistent with international norms. Publicly owned companies are generally audited annually and the reports are prepared in accordance with International Financial Reporting Standards and International Standards on Auditing.

Draft bills are published in the Gazette by the Government of Belize printers and are publicly available for a minimal fee. Draft bills are generally open to public comment. Once introduced in the House of Representatives, they are passed to Standing Committees of the House of Representatives which then meet and invite the public and interested persons to review, recommend changes, or object to draft laws prior to further debate. Public comments on draft legislation are not generally posted online nor made publicly available. It would be the prerogative of an interested party to attend public consultations, committee meetings, or to request the public comments from the National Assembly or relevant Ministry. Additionally, laws are sometimes passed quickly without meaningful publication or public review, as was the case with the Central Bank of Belize (International Immunities Act) 2017 and the Crown Proceedings (Amendment Act), 2017.

Regulatory decisions are subject to judicial review.

International Regulatory Considerations

As a full member of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Belize’s foreign, economic and trade policies regarding non-members are coordinated regionally. The country’s import tariffs are largely defined by CARICOM’s Common External Tariffs.

Belize is also a member of several other treaties as a result of its membership within CARICOM. A primary example is the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between CARIFORUM and the European Union (EU).

Outside of CARICOM, Belize is also a member of the Central American Integration System (SICA) at a political level, but is not a part of the Secretariat of Central American Economic Integration (SIECA) that supports economic integration of Central America.

Belize is a member of the WTO and CARICOM and adheres to the norms established by these organizations. Belize also ratified the Trade Facilitation Agreement in 2015 and is at 33.6 percent rate of implementation.

The Belize Bureau of Standards (BBS) is the national standards body responsible for preparing, promoting and implementing standards for goods, services, and processes. The BBS operates in in accordance with the WTO Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade and the CARICOM Regional Organization for Standards and Quality.

Legal System and Judicial Independence

The Belize Constitution is founded on the principle of separation of powers with independence of the judiciary from the executive and legislative branches of government. As a former British colony, Belize follows the English Common Law legal system, which is based on established case law. Belize has a written Contract Act, which is supported by precedents from the national courts as well as from the wider English speaking and Commonwealth case law. Contracts are legally enforced through the courts. In 2010, Belize adopted the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) as its final appellate court on civil and criminal matters. This replaced the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council of the United Kingdom.

General information relating to Belize’s judicial and legal system, including links to Belize’s Constitution, Laws and judicial decisions are available at the Judiciary of Belize website www.belizejudiciary.org. 

There are specialized courts that deal with family related matters including divorce and child custody but no specialized courts to deal with commercial disputes or cases.

The current judicial process faces systematic challenges that relate both to civil and criminal cases, including frequent adjournments, delays, and a backlog of cases. Several measures are being implemented to improve the country’s judiciary. The training of mediators and the introduction of court-connected mediation support alternative methods to dispute settlement. This effort along with better case management procedures is expected to decrease the court’s caseload, time delays, and cost particularly for smaller claim civil cases.

Regulations and enforcement actions are appealable. Judgments by the Belize Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal are available at http://www.belizejudiciary.org . Judgments by the Caribbean Court of Justice, Belize’s highest appellate court are available at http://www.caribbeancourtofjustice.org .

Laws and Regulations on Foreign Direct Investment

The laws, rules, procedures, and report requirements related to investors differ depending on the nature of the investment. BELTRAIDE provides advisory services and other related information for foreign investors relating to procedures for doing business in Belize and incentives available to qualifying investors. Further information is available at the BELTRAIDE website: http://www.belizeinvest.org.bz/ .

Enacted laws are generally available in the National Assembly’s website at www.nationalassembly.gov.bz . See above for judicial decisions from the higher courts. Examples of key legislation passed in 2017 include:

  • Central Bank of Belize (International Immunities) Act;
  • Crown Proceedings (Amendment) Act;
  • Income and Business Tax (Amendment) Act- excise duty on fuel products;
  • Business Tax;
  • National Payments System Act to establish a National Payment System;
  • Moneylenders (Amendment) Act;
  • Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters (Amendment) Act;
  • Stamp Duties (Amendment) Act raise duty to 1.75 percent;
  • Statutory Bodies (Development Contribution).

Competition and Anti-Trust Laws

Belize does not have any laws governing competition, but there are attempts to limit outside competition in certain industries (such as food and agriculture) by levying high import duties.

Expropriation and Compensation

There have been several cases in which the government used eminent domain to appropriate private property, including land belonging to foreign investors. There were no new expropriation cases. However, there are allegations that several previous expropriations were done for personal or political gain. Belizean law requires that the government assess and compensate according to fair market value. These types of expropriation cases can take many years to settle and there are numerous cases where there was no compensation or compensation is still pending. In the cases of expropriations, the claimants affirm that the Government failed to adhere to agreements entered into by a previous administration.

The process to acquire land titles has issues with cases of private as well as government manipulation of land titles involving foreigners and Belizeans. Although the government recognizes this flaw, efforts at improving the land title system remain ongoing.

In late 2017, the Government of Belize made final payments for the nationalized Belize Telemedia Limited (BTL) in line with a judgment issued by the Permanent Court of Arbitration. The final settlement cost the government approximately USD 250 million and almost eight years of lengthy legal battles against the Ashcroft Alliance.

Since July 2015, the U.S. courts have upheld four arbitration judgments against the government including one related to the BTL nationalization. The Government of Belize has chosen to ignore these judgments holding the view that enforcement actions need to proceed through Belizean courts and should be appealed up to the Caribbean Court of Justice.

Dispute Settlement

ICSID Convention and New York Convention

The Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (New York Convention) was extended to Belize by an act of the United Kingdom when Belize was a colony. After independence, Belize did not ratify the Convention nor is it listed as a contracting state. Nevertheless, arbitration is governed by the Arbitration Act (Chapter 125) of the Laws of Belize. Part IV of the Arbitration Act specifically addresses the New York Convention and empowers domestic courts to enforce awards under the Convention. A 2013 judgment of the Caribbean Court of Justice restored Part IV of the Arbitration Act for the enforcement of arbitral awards.

Belize signed on to but has not yet ratified the Convention on the Settlement of Investment Disputes between States and Nationals of Other States (ICSID convention). For more information visit: http://sice.oas.org/dispute/comarb/icsid/w_conv1.asp .

Investor-State Dispute Settlement

Please see Section 2 above- Bilateral Investment Agreements and Taxation Agreements.

Belize is also a member of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Single Market and Economy as well as a party to a regional Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between CARIFORUM and the European Union (EU). Both these regional arrangements make provisions for the settlement of investor-state disputes.

Since Belize is not a party to any Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) or Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the United States, investment disputes involving U.S. persons are taken either before the courts or before international arbitration panels.

Local courts would recognize and enforce foreign arbitral awards against the government but these would likely be adjudicated to the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), Belize’s highest appellate court.

There has not been a history of extrajudicial actions against foreign investors.

International Commercial Arbitration and Foreign Courts

Belize’s Arbitration Act allows the Supreme Court of Belize to support and supervise dispute settlement between private parties by arbitration. In 2013, the Supreme Court introduced the process of court-connected mediation as an alternative method to dispute settlement between private parties and as a means of reducing costs and duration of litigation.

There are numerous instances of cases involving State Owned Enterprises (SOEs) which went before domestic courts with ruling both in favor and against the SOE.

In January 2017, the Crown Proceedings (Amendment) Act and the Central Bank of Belize (International Immunities) Act were passed which affect the enforcement of foreign arbitral awards against the government. Essentially, the Crown Proceedings Amendment Act provides that if a foreign judgment is entered against the government and later declared as “unlawful, void or otherwise invalid” by a court in Belize, the foreign judgement would not be enforced in or outside Belize. The Act also provides for hefty penalties of fines and or imprisonment on a person, individual or legal, seeking to enforce the foreign judgment. The Central Bank (International Immunities) Act restates the immunity of the Central Bank of Belize assets “from legal proceedings in other states.” The Central Bank International Immunities Act similarly provides for penalties of fines and/or imprisonment on a person, individual or legal, which initiates any such proceedings.

Bankruptcy Regulations

Chapter 244 of the Laws of Belize (Bankruptcy Act) provides and allows for bankruptcy filings. The Act provides for the establishment of receivership, trustees, adjudication and seizures of the property of the bankrupt. The court may order the arrest of the debtor and seizure of assets and documents in the event the debtor will flee or avoid payment to creditors. The Act also provides for imprisonment on conviction of certain specified offenses. The Director of Public Prosecutions may also institute prosecution proceedings for offenses emanating or related to the bankruptcy proceedings.

4. Industrial Policies

Investment Incentives

The legal framework authorizing and providing investment incentives includes the Fiscal Incentives Act, the Export Processing Zone Act, the Commercial Free Zone Act, the International Business Companies Act, the Retired Persons Incentives Act, the Trusts Act, the Offshore Banking Act, and the Gaming Control Act.

In 2016, Government of Belize, with the support of the Commonwealth Secretariat, completed review of existing Fiscal Incentives, Export Processing Zones, and Commercial Free Zones. Potential investors should be aware of this ongoing process when discussing investment concessions.

Regulations require that incentives granted to an enterprise be awarded based on the investment’s socioeconomic contributions to the Belizean economy: employment creation, transfer of skills and technology, and foreign exchange earnings or savings. All approved projects must benefit the public and must fit within the government’s overall development plan.

Foreign Trade Zones/Free Ports/Trade Facilitation

The Export Processing Zone (EPZ) Act, which is administered by the Ministry of Economic Development, was designed to attract local and foreign investments to boost production for export markets. Activities targeted by this incentive include manufacturing, non-traditional agricultural products, processing, assembly, and services, including call centers. Approved companies in this portfolio are treated as being outside national customs territory by benefiting from exemptions from full import and export duties, capital gains taxes, property and land taxes, dividend taxes, value-added taxes, trade turnover taxes, foreign exchange taxes, transfer taxes, as well as excise, sales, and consumption taxes. The program allows a tax holiday period of 20 years, with an option to extend and deduct losses from profits following the tax holiday period. Companies are allowed to open foreign currency bank accounts, and are exempted from import and export licensing requirements, resulting in no restrictions on the importation of raw materials or on the exportation of finished products. The program also allows for the sale, lease, or transfer of goods and services within an EPZ, Customs inspections in the zone for expediency, work permits at no cost for all professional and technical staff, and, if necessary, authorizing up to a 20 percent foreign workforce.

A Commercial Free Zone (CFZ) is a specifically designated area for the conduct of business operations, including, but not limited to, manufacturing, commercial offices, insurance services, banking and financial services, offshore financial services, professional or related services, processing, packaging, warehousing, and the distribution of goods and services. Belize currently has two CFZs, one on the northern border with Mexico and a small zone on the western border with Guatemala. Goods originating from these free zones can only be sold into Belize’s national customs territory after the necessary duties and taxes have been assessed and paid. The Commercial Free Zone Management Agency (CFZMA), sanctioned by the government of Belize, monitors and administers the free zones. Incentives include exemptions from import duties, income tax, taxes on dividends, capital gains tax, or any new corporate tax levied by the Government during the first 10 years of operation. In addition, all imports and exports of a CFZ are exempt from all customs duties, consumption taxes, excise taxes, or in-transit taxes, except those destined for or directly entering areas subject to the national customs territory. Additionally, CFZ businesses incurring a net loss over the five-year tax holiday may deduct losses from profits in the three years following the tax holiday period.

Performance and Data Localization Requirements

The Fiscal Incentives Act awards a qualified entity a development concession during the start-up or expansion stages of a business in order to foster its growth by offsetting custom duties. According to BELTRAIDE (www.belizeinvest.org.bz ), two programs are offered under this Act, the Regular Program for investments exceeding USD 150,000 and the Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) program for investments of less than USD 150,000. In general, the legal framework allows for full Customs Duties exemptions and Tax Holidays for up to 15 years for approved enterprises. According to the Act, this is renewable for another 10-year term, totaling 25 years for companies engaged in agriculture, agro-industrial products, mariculture (aquaculture), food processing, and manufacturing with export operations that are labor intensive.

The length and extent of a development concession are determined by several factors, including: (a) the extent of local value added; (b) the projected profitability of the enterprise; (c) foreign exchange earnings or savings; (d) transfer of skills and technology; and (e) new employment opportunities.

Occasionally, foreign investors complain that these investment promotions are rarely as open, effective, or easy to obtain as they appear on paper. For example, the Fiscal Incentives Act allows a tax holiday, however, only in rare cases within the past 10 years was this tax holiday considered during the approval process.

The Fiscal Incentives SME Program is aimed at smaller enterprises with a minimum of 51 percent Belizean ownership. The SME Program offers the same benefits of the Regular Program, with the exception of the allowable timeframe for duty exemptions. Under this program, companies are allowed a maximum of five years of development concessions, with the expectation that after this period, companies can mature into the larger Regular Program.

The International Business Companies (IBC) Act allows international investors to establish offshore companies in Belize. These entities are not allowed to own an interest in real property in Belize or to conduct business in banking or insurance with Belizean residents. However, they benefit from tax exemptions on all income; dividends paid to persons resident in Belize or elsewhere; interest, rent, royalties, and compensation paid to persons who are not residents of Belize; and capital gains realized on shares, debt obligations, or other securities of an IBC by persons who are not resident in Belize. There are no currency restrictions for banking transactions, and no restrictions on citizenship or residency requirements for directors, officers, or shareholders. All IBCs must be registered through an authorized IBC agent of the International Business Companies Registry. In 2017, the IBC Act was amended to allow, inter alia, for the elimination of bearer shares as well as the requirement for companies to maintain a register of directors and a register of beneficial owners. See www.ifsc.ggov.bz for more information.

The Qualified Retirement Program (QRP) was created to facilitate eligible persons who have met the income requirements, to permanently live and retire in Belize. The Belize Tourism Board offers the Retired Persons Incentive Act, which was designed to benefit retired persons over 45 years of age. To qualify, applicants need proof of income not less than USD 2,000 per month through a pension or annuity generated outside of Belize. An approved QRP is allowed to import personal effects and an approved means of transportation free of all customs duties and taxes. All income generated outside of Belize is also free of taxes. A timeframe of one year is given to import all personal and household effects into Belize, using multiple shipments as necessary. Duty and tax-free importation of an automobile, light aircraft (less than 17,000 kg), or boat is allowed. Vehicles may only be replaced at intervals exceeding three years. Effects and items imported under this program can only be sold, given away, or leased after the appropriate payment of applicable duties and taxes. For more information, visit: http://www.belizetourismboard.org .

7. State-Owned Enterprises

State Owned Enterprises (SOEs) are active in the utilities and services sectors. The Government of Belize is the majority shareholder in the Belize Water Services Limited, the country’s sole provider of water services, Belize Electricity Limited, the sole provider of electricity services, and Belize Telemedia Limited, the largest telecommunication provider in the country.

SOEs usually engage senior government officials, and at times include members of local business bureaus and chambers of commerce, labor organizations, and quasi-governmental agencies, as a part of their management and board of directors. There is usually a board of directors that guides the direction, policies, and decisions of the SOE that ostensibly is independent, but in practice has included high-ranking government officials including as high as the Vice Minister level as well as close relatives of government officials. Current and previous administrations are accused of nepotism in staffing its SOEs as well as conflicts of interest when board members or directors of SOEs are also found to be members on the boards of organizations that do business with the SOEs.

There is no published list of SOEs. The following are the major SOEs operating in the country. Publicly available information relating to their operations are available on their website including their audited financial reports:

There are no third party market analysis sources that evaluate whether SOEs receive non-market advantages by the government. The Belize Electricity Limited and the Belize Water Services Limited are the only service providers in their respective sectors. The Belize Telemedia Services competes with one other provider for mobile connectivity and there are multiple players that provide internet and data services. All utilities are regulated by the Public Utilities Commission.

Privatization Program

The Government of Belize does not currently have a privatization program.

8. Responsible Business Conduct

There is not a general awareness of the expectations and standards for responsible business conduct (RBC). However, many foreign and local companies engage in responsible corporate behaviors, particularly from a social perspective. Companies sponsor various areas including educational scholarships, sport related activities, community enhancement projects or entrepreneurship activities. There are no formal government measures or policies to promote RBC.

There are several agencies that seek to protect individuals and address human rights, labor rights, consumer protection, and environmental concerns. For example, the Office of the Ombudsman is responsible for investigating complaints of official corruption and abuse of power. As required by law, the Ombudsman is active in filing annual reports to the national assembly and investigating incidents of alleged misconduct particularly of police abuses. However, it is constrained, lacks enforcement powers, encounters political pressure, and has limited resources.

In the area of environment, certain projects require the Department of the Environment’s approval for Environmental Impact Assessments or Environmental Compliance Plans. The Department of Environment website, http://www.doe.gov.bz , has more information on the Environmental Protection Act, various regulations, applications and guidelines.

There are no government measures relating to corporate governance, accounting, and executive compensation standards, and the government does not factor RBC policies into its procurement decisions.

There are no NGOs, investment funds, worker organizations/unions, or business associations specifically promoting or monitoring RBC. Over the past two years, labor unions and business associations have become actively engaged in advocating for stronger measures against corruption. The process of implementing the UN Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) related reforms remains ongoing. See below on Corruption.

Belize does not have a highly developed mineral sector and would not be categorized as a conflict or high-risk country. It does not adhere to the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict-Afflicted and High-Risk Areas. Belize’s extractive/mining industry is not highly developed and it does not participate in the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) and/or the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights.

12. OPIC and Other Investment Insurance Programs

OPIC was involved in two projects in Belize, one in 2002 and the other in 2006. While Belize qualifies for OPIC support under the Clean Energy Security Initiative, there are as of yet no OPIC related projects either planned or being implemented. The country is currently benefiting from two United States Trade and Development Agency USTDA projects to investigate the potential of adopting clean energy technologies by the utilities sector. There is an OPIC Agreement between Belize and the United States, which predates Belize’s independence.

Belize is a member of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), Caribbean Development Bank, the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) of the World Bank, and the Central American Bank for Economic Integration (CABEI).

13. Foreign Direct Investment and Foreign Portfolio Investment Statistics

Table 2: Key Macroeconomic Data, U.S. FDI in Host Country/Economy

Host Country Statistical Source USG or International Statistical Source USG or International Source of Data:
BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other
Economic Data Year Amount Year Amount
Host Country Gross Domestic Product (GDP) (M USD) N/A 2016 USD 1,765 www.worldbank.org/en/country 
Foreign Direct Investment Host Country Statistical source USG or International Statistical Source USG or International Source of Data:
BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other
U.S. FDI in Partner Country (M USD, stock positions) N/A N/A BEA data available at
http://bea.gov/international/direct_
investment_multinational_
companies_comprehensive_data.htm
 
Host Country’s FDI in the United States (M USD, stock positions) N/A N/A BEA data available at
http://bea.gov/international/direct_
investment_multinational_
companies_comprehensive_data.htm
 
Total Inbound Stock of FDI as % host GDP N/A

Table 3: Sources and Destination of FDI

Statistics on foreign direct investments in Belize, by country of origin are unavailable, including the total invested by U.S. investors. There are a number of successful and long-term U.S. owned businesses in Belize, including in sectors such as agro-processing, energy, timber, agriculture, tourism, hotels and other service sectors. FDI inflows are traditionally concentrated primarily in the tourism related construction, real estate, and agriculture sectors.

Table 4: Sources of Portfolio Investment

Foreign portfolio investments, such as bank deposits, mutual funds, bonds and other financial securities, require the approval of the Central Bank. Approval is based on the individual substantial economic interest in Belize

Investment Climate Statements
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