Trade Promotion and Advertising
Belize hosts two annual trade shows. The largest, the National Agriculture and Trade Show, is organized by the Ministry of Agriculture and is normally held over a weekend in April. The Expo Belize Market Place trade show is organized by the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the largest private sector organization in the country. The Expo is a usually a two-day event held in September. The U.S. Embassy in Belize usually has a booth at the Expo where U.S. companies are welcome to participate.
Business advertising in Belize is done mainly through radio, newspapers, magazines, television, social media, and billboards.
Certain items, including basic foodstuffs such as rice, beans, sugar, bread, and flour, butane, and LPG are subject to government price controls under the Supplies Control (Amendment) Regulations.
General Sales Tax (GST) has been 12.5 percent since 2010. It is a consumption tax applicable on all commodities. Staple food items such as rice, beans, corn, fresh meat, flour, sugar, eggs, bread, and tortilla are subject to a 0 percent GST, while water, school fees, house rent, insurance, medicine, and hotel rooms are considered exempt goods and services. GST is also applicable on goods and services including internet data service, government contracts, as well as to Business Processing Outsourcing companies. The Department of General Sales Tax offers a full listing of zero-rated and exempt goods.
Imported products are subject to tariffs such as Import Duties, Cost, Insurance, plus Freight (CIF Value), Revenue Replacement Duties (if applicable), General Sales Tax, and Environmental Tax. Import Duties generally range from 0 to 45 percent. A zero percent tax is applicable to some food items, books and educational material and medicines. Rates of up to 45 percent apply to items such as vehicles, fresh peppers, pepper sauces, live animals, and boats. Many general household products (e.g. grocery and clothing) carry an average import duty rate between 10 and 20 percent. Items considered luxury commodities, like SUVs, alcohol, cosmetics, or items that compete with domestic industries may range from 70 to 120 percent. Thereafter Cost, Insurance, plus Freight (CIF Value) is applied on top of GST. An Environmental Tax of three percent is also applicable on all imports, excluding some medicines and food items; however, automobiles are charged the Environmental Tax at a rate of 5 percent.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, items including bleach, peroxide, hand sanitizers, face masks, and disinfecting sprays and wipes are exempt from import taxes and GST.
The above costs should be accounted for in establishing appropriate pricing mechanisms in traded products.
Sales Service/Customer Support
Belize generally lacks adequate customer and after-sales support. After-sales services are limited to business establishments dealing with electronic equipment, such as photocopiers, typewriters, computers, air conditioners, cellular phones, and vehicles.
Local Professional Services
The following are references and associations in Belize that may be a source of professional information and/or services:
- The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Belize
- Association of Professional Engineers of Belize
- Association of Professional Architects of Belize
- Belize Association of Planners
- Belize Medical and Dental Association
- Belize Nurses and Midwives Council
- Belize National Association of Realtors
- Association of Real Estate Brokers of Belize
- Belize Poultry Association
- Belize Coalition of Service Providers
Principal Business Associations
For all the following organizations, membership is not based on nationality. U.S. businesspeople and businesses are accepted members.
The Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry is the leading principal private sector business association. It has a membership of almost 300 businesses from a wide cross-section of the agricultural, productive, service, and industrial sectors. The organization lobbies the Government of Belize to promote the commercial interest of its members.
The Belize Tourism Industry Association is the largest tourism-based organization. As an umbrella organization, its membership includes smaller tourism associations and other stakeholders from across the industry including tour guides, tour operators, hotels and hospitality, and cruise service providers.
The Belize Hotel Association comprises primarily of accommodation providers including hotels, resorts, lodges, condominiums, educational facilities operating in the hospitality industry.
The Belize Coalition of Service Providers is an alliance of service sector organizations and associations. BCSP’s mandate is to lobby for economic development and trade-in-services issues that impact the services sector
Limitations on Selling U.S. Products and Services
Generally, Belize has no restrictions on foreign ownership, control, or participation in companies. Nevertheless, Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) wishing to benefit from certain incentives offered by BELTRAIDE, as well as those wishing to establish themselves as tours operators, need to have 51 percent local ownership.