There are countless reasons to invest in Belize but here are the top 10 reasons:
1. Location Location Location: Located in the centre of the Americas, Belize provides the advantage of easy access being only a 2 hour flight to the United States. South and Central America are just a short flight away as well and it serves as a bridge to the markets in Europe.
2. Openness To Trade: Many countries in the Caribbean have preferential access to some of the largest markets in the world. Belize is no different and benefits from trade agreements with several countries including;
- Preferential market access to the Caribbean Common Market (CARICOM)
- Preferential treatment from the U.S. under the Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI)
- Under the Lomé IV Convention it has duty-free access to the EU for certain commodities such as bananas and sugar
- Certain Belizean goods enter Canada duty-free.
3. The Government of Belize’s Investment Incentives: The Belize government offers a number of incentives to attract inward investment. These include:
- 100% foreign ownership of land and company assets
- Encouragement of joint ventures with local entities
- Special incentives for retirees.
4. Take a Tax Holiday: The Fiscal Incentives Act 1990 relates to tax holidays and duty.The tax holiday period shall normally be for a five-year duration from the date of production. However, there is a provision that the Minister for Economic Development can, on application by the company, in a fit and proper case, review the company’s operations and renew the tax-holiday period for a further term not to exceed 10 years.
In addition, a company that is engaged in agriculture, agro-industrial products, mariculture, etc. whose operation is strictly for export, and is highly labor intensive, can receive a tax holiday of up to 25 years. Incentives under this particular clause in the Act also allow exemption from income tax under the Income Tax Act, including the repatriation of profits and dividends.
The Act allows duty exemptions to companies that are granted an Approved Enterprise Order (Development Concession) to import items into Belize, free of import duty, and revenue replacement duty. Such items include: building materials, plants, machinery, equipment, specialized tools, utility and transport vehicles, fixtures and fittings, office equipment and appliances, spare parts for plant, plant-related machinery, agricultural machinery, and any raw materials, or other items for the sole use of the approved enterprise.
The duty exemption period is for up to 15 years, with a potential extension of 10 years, subject to ministerial review. Several factors are considered when looking at an extension proposal: local value addition, profitability on investment, foreign exchange earnings or foreign exchange savings, creation of employment, transfer of new technology, location of industry, destination of the final products, and level of investment.
In addition, Belize enjoys the stability of a long-standing, democratic tradition, and has an independent judiciary. The country’s exchange rate is now fixed for 25 years. Repatriation of profits and dividends is the norm here.
5. Belize’s Export Processing Zones: For certain types of businesses, Belize’s Export Processing Zones (EPZs) provide substantial benefits to investors. Those investors who take advantage of EPZs are often in the business of tourism, agriculture, mariculture, distribution, and light industry.
For Belize, the benefit of these free-trade zones is a way to encourage foreign trade and investment.
For investors, the advantages include:
- Exemption from import and export duties as taxes on capital gains, property, sales and consumption, trade turnover, foreign exchange, and transfers
- An income tax holiday of 20 years with an option to extend and deduct losses from profits following the period of the tax holiday
- Dividend tax exemption in perpetuity
- The opportunity to open foreign currency bank accounts in Belize and abroad
- Exemption from the Supplies Control Act and its regulations
In addition, EPZs aren’t burdened with restrictions on raw materials or export licensing requirements.
6. Modern Infrastructure: Electricity and water supply is constant and affordable as is telecommunications and broadband internet access.
7. Economic and Political Stability: Belize is known for its stable democracy and economic development. This provides the assurance of a secure place to live, raise families and conduct business.
8. Unprecedented Growth In Tourism: Belize enjoys a 20% yearly growth in its tourism industry and a whopping 85% of cruise ships make a stop in Belize – more than any other Caribbean nation. One cruise ship company recently announced the purchase of an entire island just off Placencia and have a $50 million US development budget. Belize is universally considered one of the top 10 scuba diving destinations in the world with a coral barrier reef second in size only to Australia running its entire coastline.
9. English Is The Official Language: Belize is the only country in Lain America where this is the case
10. Laws Are Familiar: The system of law in Belize is based on the British legal system and therefore familiar with North Americans and Europeans.
There are many web sites providing quality information about Belize. One of the best is Belize Retirement Guide.