Sunday, December 28, 2008

MEXICO HOLDS TRADE CONFERENCE WITH BELIZE

MEXICO HOLDS TRADE CONFERENCE IN CHETUMAL FOR BELIZEANS

Mexico’s Ambassador to Belize, His Excellency, Luis Manuel Lopez Moreno was the brains behind the organization of the conference held across the border in the State of Quintana Roo, in the border town of Chetumal. We first heard of the conference some two weeks after it took place, from a Reporter Newspaper article by William Ysaguirre out of the coastal port of Belize City. The conference was held earlier this month on December 11th, 2008.
Mexico was looking to export more goods to Belize and buy raw materials. Belizeans attending the conference were looking to increase their exports to Mexico and were seeking to shift from primary products to more finished products with Value Added light manufacturing. Since Belize only has about 300,000 people, there is not yet a lot of things the Belizean producers are doing in the light manufacturing field. The major hurdle for Belizean producers right now is a market for finished products. Most interest for Belizeans was in the food agro-processing field.
The Belize delegation was led by Nancy Names, with the title of Director of Foreign Trade. The name is new to us here in Western Belize. First time that Belizeans even knew out here in the Western Belize Industrial, Agricultural and Recreational Area and had even heard of this person and job title.
Other persons of interest at the conference across the northern border of Belize in Chetumal, were Kim Aikman of the Belize City, port town Chamber of Commerce, also President Luis Javier Ortiz Cardin of CANACOSERVYTUR which is an anacronym for the National Mexican Chamber of Commerce – tourism and services section, there were members from CANACOSERVYTU the Hotel and Tourism Industry entrepreneurial and construction industry in Mexico. Also Mexico’s Secretary of Economic Development Francisco Alor Quezada. Belizean Minister of Economic Development, Commerce and Industry, Honourable Erwin Contreras addressed the gathering in Chetumal. Jose Albeto Olonso Ovando the State Secretary of Quintana Roo, planning and regional Development delivered the closing address of the conference. Other Mexican talkers were Chetumal business chairman, Mario Rendon Monforte and Jose Julio Aranda Manzanero, a delegate from the Secretariat for the Economy, Mayor of Chetumal, Andres Ruiz Morcillo also spoke.
Interested Belizeans present, were from Running W and Country Meat Products in Spanish Lookout, the Heartland southern section of the organized Mennonite industrial and agriculture producing area of Western Belize. Currently cattle are exported live to Mexico, but the local Belizean industry is more intent on exporting value added meat products to Mexico, like beef sausages, pork, ham and bacon. Belizean cottage industry entrepreneurial people are interested in exporting hot pepperoni similar to Bridgeport pepperoni in the USA and beef chewing jerky, in vacuum packed plastic. Experiments in these two processed food items are on going right now. Other producers are interested in exporting Belizean liquors and citrus products and even sugar markets are needed. Vacuum packed lettuce leaves just met with experimental failure for shelf longevity.
In the finished product line, Marie Sharpe hot sauce was represented in Chetumal, but unlikely to be able to compete with Mexican hot sauces. Our local hot sauce is made for the North American gringo palate and is so mild, we use it at home as a sandwich spread under a layer of Marmite. The last trip through Mexico I had some GREEN hot sauce in the same sized bottle as Marie Sharps and two drops of that green hot sauce made my forehead break out in beads of sweat. Great stuff! Beats Marie Sharps hot sauce. We are more likely to import this green Mexican stuff here. As a gourmet hot sauce afficianado I love hot stuff. There is a Chinese restaurant in Miami at the shopping mall at 37th ave and 11 street, that produces Mustard so hot, that it is like a fire hose blowing through your nasal passages and sinus cavities. I have been unable to get the ingredients and recipe either for the mustard in Miami, or the green hot sauce in Mexico. Experiments have failed to produce the same heat. Other would be exporters from Belize to Mexico present, were Western Dairies who produce ice cream and milk among other things. Belize has a shortage of milk cow farm operations. Our local Hillview cheese factory has the devil of a time getting milk to make cheese. Also Bel Car which is a cleaning and packing company for the production and sale of grains and beans that are exported. Even a Belmopan company called Unique Co. Ltd. a Belizean/Taiwanese run outfit in our capital, which makes Belizean handicrafts and gift items. Out in Western Belize some pottery is made, hammocks, wood carvings, jewelry, loom produced weavings and other things for the tourist trade, books of fiction, artwork painting, but they are still disorganized and individual crafts sold to local tourists. It is seemingly impossible to get nylon colored string for hammock making from Merida and the Guatemalan stuff is not nylon and breaks easily. The problem with Mexican stuff for the Twin Towns of Western Belize is how to get it here from Chetumal? Nobody has been able to develop a steady market either with the cruise ship trade, or offshore on San Pedro, Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker. The problem seems to be local store buyers want stuff on credit, or consignment and it is next to difficult, if not impossible to collect your money. The tourist production stuff languishes thus, without a middle man buyer. Acrylic painting by artists seem to have a steady buyer someplace down in the port and local Twin Town artists in this area are producing and selling these small scale. Funny enough local Western artists have been told to tone down the quality of their artistic talents and paint crude childrens stuff, as there seems to be no market for good art?

MARKETING
Coincidently, there is an ad this week for MAERSK OCEAN SHIPPING LINE now serving the port of Belize City, with a new service to Venezuela, once thought as a ready market for Belizean value added products under the ALBA initiative by President Chavez. Government Cabinet Ministers, pooh-poohed that idea of barter trade with Venezuela for oil, saying that the shipping freight costs and the loading fees for containers in Belize City where astronomically high and made exporting to Venezuela impractical financially. Our government is broke also and going ever deeper into debt from overspending, using a borrow and spend debt economics policy, so any sort of practical assistance from our Belizean government is unlikely, other than propoganda. The government of the day lack the skills to control government spending. The nation has enough money, but lacks management of the money.

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