Belize

In Belize, business and nature meet, creating an attractive and sustainable investment climate for investors seeking to develop products and services that cater to markets that value nature. If you think niche, Belize is your way to grow. A strategic location. stable economy, the only English-speaking country in Central America, an attractive legal framework for investment, investment incentives, an educated and hard-working labour force, access to markets and political stability. Nature has blessed this country with unique natural riches and its government is committed to preserving this endowment and leveraging on these natural assets to promote the private sector growth that will ensure long-term sustainability.

The Belize economy is very diverse. Although Belize is has a small economy, the diversity in opportunities is beyond that of similar-sized population. Belize land mass, its unique bio diversity, it’s geographical location, it’s various economic and political cooperation agreements, and its open Sidebar Managereconomy sets it apart as a unique platform for innovation and growth.

Belize remains one of the best opportunities for development of a sustainable model for economic growth. The small population means that basic services are fairly easy and inexpensive to deliver. The massive natural resources such as the coral reefs surrounding the coastline and the dense rain forests teeming with flora and fauna, represent huge opportunities for development of sustainable productive opportunities while conserving one of the most diverse eco-systems in the world.

In a world increasingly seeking natural products, where organic, fair trade, and eco-labelled certifications fetch price premiums; Belize’s natural assets, development policies and pro-business investment climate have created an ideal destination for investors looking to differentiate based on quality.

 

No other country has so emphatically proclaimed this niche-oriented destiny. Belize’s government, recognized by investors as non-intrusive, supportive and predictable, is wholly committed to creating the conditions, policies and institutions to continue supporting the country’s niche-oriented development model and preserving the country’s distinctiveness.

 

There is an increasing demand for “made in Belize” products and services, for the simple reason that they carry an aura of quality and distinctiveness that differentiates them in the eyes of consumers. The list of premium driven and niche-market oriented products and services include: “fair-trade” branded cocoa, orange juice, exotic pepper sauces and experience-based tourism.

 

Various economic sectors are being targeted by investors attracted by Belize’s natural resources, convenient legal framework and export-oriented infrastructure. Tourism services and tourism-related activities, agribusiness, aquaculture, furniture manufacturing and international financial services are among the economic sectors that are focusing the interest of potential niche investors around the globe.

 

Business Incentives are many and varied:

 

Duty Exemption of up to 15 years to companies granted and Approved Enterprise Order, and up to 25 years for companies engaged in agriculture, agro industrial products, mariculture, food
processing and manufacturing with operations centered on export and highly labor intensive.

 

Import Duty Exemption can apply to categories including; Building Materials and Supplies, Plant, Machinery, and Equipment, Specialized Tools, Utility and Transport Vehicles, Fixtures and Fittings, Office Equipment and Appliances, Spare Parts for Plant, Machinery & Equipment, Agricultural Machinery and Supplies, Raw Materials o

 

The SME Program was designed and created to encourage investments by Belizeans who are investing below USD$150,000.00
* Joint ventures with foreigners are allowed providing that a minimum of 51% of ownership is retained by Belizean(s).
* Employing not more than 15 persons
* Annual Turnover not exceeding USD$250,000.00
* Is not a subsidiary of or controlled by an entity that is not an SME
* Is a net foreign exchange earner
* Holds necessary permits/licenses to conduct the business
* Application Fee –r other items for the sole usage of the approved enterprise.

 

GAMING CONTROL ACT

This system was modeled on par with similar standards adopted by successful gaming countries, and subsequently adjusted to create a modern program to suit the gaming industry. Gaming fosters economic growth and development through investments, which allows for job creation, transfer of skills and technology, earning of foreign exchange and linkages to the tourism sector and other sectors of the economy.

Benefits of Gaming Control Act

* Smooth and simple application process
* Designed specifically to encourage the hotel and tourism industry
* Tourists and qualified Belizean residents over 18 are allowed to enter gaming room and participate
* Gaming room allowed to stay open every day except Good Friday
* No additional fees attached to usage of slot machines
* Renewable license granted for a period of up to five years
* Year-round sub tropical climate
* Additional tourist attractions offered by Belize
* Strong and stable economy

Types of Gaming Licenses

1. Gaming License – is granted for Casinos.
2. Gaming Machine License – is granted for establishments featuring gaming machines such as any arcade machine, poker machine, slot machine, or any electro-mechanical device used in connection with or for the purpose of gaming
3. Online Gaming License – is granted when gaming occurs as a result of a player entering, negotiating, or receiving a bet by means of telecommunication.

OFFSHORE BANKING ACT

The Offshore Banking Act enables licensed banks and other related businesses to operate from within Belize in foreign currencies, securities and assets owned by persons not resident in Belize. Belize’s Offshore Banking industry has a high reputation for integrity and fair dealing.

Benefits of Belize’s Offshore Banking Act

* Offshore Banking License remains valid for an unlimited period of time.
* Entitled to establish, maintain and operate a business office in Belize.
* Unrestricted “A” Class Offshore Banking License.
* Restricted “B” Class Offshore Banking License.
* Class “A” license allowed to transact offshore banking business without restriction.
* Complete confidentiality regarding information relating to the affairs of a licensee or any customer of a licensee.
* Exemption from taxes on profits and dividends.
* Exemption from currency and exchange control restrictions or regulations.

EXPORT PROCESSING ZONES ACT – (Chapter 280 Laws of Belize)

The Export Processing Zone (EPZ) Program attracts both local and foreign investments to boost production for export markets with a focus on manufactured goods and non-traditional agricultural products. An EPZ company is treated as being outside the customs territory of the host state, where export-oriented activities are undertaken in the manufacturing, processing, assembly, and service sectors.

Benefits of EPZs

* Full import and export duty exemptions
* Exemptions from capital gains tax, property and land taxes, excise, sales and consumption taxes, taxes on trade turnover, on foreign exchange and transfer tax.
* Tax holiday of 20 years with an option to extend and deduct loses from profits following the tax holiday period.
* Dividend tax exemption in perpetuity.
* Opportunity to open foreign currency bank accounts in Belize and abroad.
* Opportunity to sell, lease or transfer items, goods and services within an EPZ.
* Exemption from the Supplies Control Act and its regulations.
* No import restrictions on raw materials.
* No import or export licensing requirement.
* No trade licenses.
* Customs inspection at the Zone for expediency.

INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS COMPANIES (IBCs)

The Belize International Business Companies Act is both modern and attractive and designed to meet the needs of sophisticated international investors.

Benefits of IBCs

* Exemption from taxes on all income.
* Exemption from taxes on all dividends.
* Exemption from taxes on all interests, rent, royalties, compensations and other amounts.
* Exemption from taxes on capital gains on shares, debt obligations or other securities of an IBC by non-residents.
* No currency restrictions.
* Meetings of shareholders and/or directors may be held in any country and may be attended by proxy.
* No citizenship or residency requirements for directors, officers or shareholders.

COMMERCIAL FREE ZONES (CFZs)

The Commercial Free Zone Act 1994 was established to attract foreign investment and provides for various activities including manufacturing, processing, packaging, warehousing and distribution of goods and services. Merchandize warehoused in a CFZ may be sold free of duty wholesale or retail:

* To diplomats of other countries
* To ships that dock at ports in Belize
* For direct export whether by sea, air or land
* For entry into national customs territory

Benefits of CFZs in Belize:

* Duty exemptions available to investors in a CFZ on:

(a) merchandize, articles or other goods entering a CFZ for commercial purpose. (b) fuel and goods including building materials, furniture, equipment, supplies and parts required for the proper functioning of the CFZ business.

* Exemption from income tax, capital tax, gains tax or any new corporate tax levied by the Government of Belize during the first 10 years of operation.
* Exemption from such tax for the first 25 years of operation on dividends paid by a CFZ business.
* Imports or exports by a CFZ business do not require an import or export license.
* No restrictions on the sale of foreign currency or transfer of foreign exchange in a CFZ.
* No Government charges and taxes imposed on the use of foreign currency in a CFZ.
* CFZ businesses are allowed to open an account in any currency with any registered bank.
* Income tax deductions on the chargeable income of every developer and CFZ business after the first 10 years of operation.
* CFZ businesses incurring a net loss over the 10 year tax holiday may deduct the loss against profits in the 3 years following the tax holiday period.