Thursday, September 4, 2008

Falconview Hostel NEWS SERVICE on Western Belize



By Ray Auxillou, Sept, 3rd, 2008

It is now official ! Channel 7 News television contacted the Prime Minister of Belize, Dean Barrow and on questioning about the Economic Partnership Agreement, being forced down the throats of the small CARICOM countries, the Prime Minister was quoted to say by Channel 7 TV News; that he will be signing the EPA required by the European Union and mailing in the signature of Belize to the agreement contract, on September 10th in Barbados. He will not be personally embarrassed to our equivalent of the Versailles Treaty of World War 1.

There has been considerable uproar around the Caribbean, because of the extortionist intimidation tactics used by the European Union against small Caribbean CARICOM countries. The small countries don’t export much to Europe, but in the case of Belize; sugar and bananas are the chief bulk agriculture export commodities. In our case in Belize, there is interest in Asia for both our products, but in the case of the bananas, the shipping lines that are geared up to do this once or twice a month, as cooled reefer cargo, for an otherwise fast ripening product, only run to European ports. There is no alternative transportation system and buyer, to currently export bananas to ASIA, particularly Japan, or say Canada. Sugar is a different story and there is probably shipping and buyers for sugar in ASIA, as sugar is not a perishable product, but current contracts are between British buyers, re-processors and packaging companies for re-export in the UK and the Commonwealth by the UK. Nobody local has tried to seek a market in ASIA. Our entrepreneur base is still too small for our population size. The shareholders also are not so inclined either of our sugar factory. Belizeans have been backward and lazy in this regard of seeking wider marketing and value added products, so we get taken advantage of, by Europeans. We have nobody but ourselves to blame. Small is no excuse!

These two major export earners for Belize left the UDP government in a bind. On the one hand, it is a bullying extortionist tactic done by the EU, as the debate so far in the Eastern Caribbean claims that the desired EU effect is to open wide our local markets for duty free EU exports of hundreds of thousands of value added products to our local market. The government will lose tax revenues which is going to hurt badly. Competition from other sources, such as Brazil, Mexico, our neighbors like Honduras, Salvador, and Guatemala for similar exports to Belize, will now be undercut in the pricing of EU value added, manufactured products coming in duty free.

The situation was one of a damned if you do and damned if you don’t situation, the European Union put the small countries of CARICOM into. Preferably there should be no EPA at all between friends. This is an act of economic war between a slave master and slaves. The whip, or threat was that the European Union in the case of Belize would ruin our banana business and sugar exporting business, as explained by our Prime Minister, if we do not OPEN our local markets to DUTY FREE EU exports of all kinds. We will not forget this, nor forgive, for the EU is now our enemy by their own actions. We did not need the EPA, their casual big brother friendship and goodwill mattered to us more. The EU bureaucrats that designed this EPA have done a disservice to the EU relationship with the Caribbean.

With the recent loss of the Papaya industry to Hurricane damage, the loss of Williamson Industries a big employer of sewing factory jobs for re-export of manufactured goods and the collapse of the world shrimp prices due to world overproduction and our local investments in the shrimp pond export industry, we are fast losing our traditional revenue tax base in Belize. This UDP policy decision enslaves Belizeans for about ten years in the first instance if I have read the arguments debated over in the Eastern Caribbean correctly? Much of what we import today, comes from the USA, and our four immediate neighbors. Things were looking up for wider imports and exports in recent years to other countries, particularly ASIAN countries. I don’t think we Belizeans should forget, or forgive, the European Union and as soon as - tit for tat - can be done, I think we should hurt them back. Can’t stand a bully, or extortionist criminals. Most of the so-called EU preferential trade is pure lies anyway, as the European Union favors their local growers in Europe with SUBSIDIES to assist them against our exports. Either way, the UDP government decided on making this policy decision, we were going to take a whipping and further enslavement. The thing now is; to figure a way around the situation and continue increasing our own light manufacturing value added products and exports to make us stronger in Belize, DESPITE the EU slave master economic colonial relationship now formed. The only choice is to find alternate buyers for our agriculture exports. We have gone from being an associated colony of the UK to an economic slave colony of the EU. Where is our vaunted desire for Independence?

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