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Latin America Investment News on Viva Tropical

Worst Year for Business in Belize’s Corozal Commercial Free Zone

Article Summary:

Belize Corozal Commercial Free Zone is in a crisis situation. Sales at this once robust commercial location has dropped drastically in 2011, making it one of worst years for business. What happened?

Photo Credit: Belize Times

Original Article Text From Belize Times:

Free Zone sales in Crisis
Sales at the Corozal Commercial Free Zone have dropped drastically in 2011, making it one of the worst years for business.

According to statistics, the December season which normally attracts over 2,000 vehicles a day has been dismal, barely attracting 500.

A picture taken by a Mexican press on December 16th, showed how empty, almost abandoned, the free zone has been this December.

“The main avenue of the free zone remains empty, except for vendors who eagerly await the arrival of buyers.  One dispatcher said that in the week discouraged the arrival of buyers has been low, contrary to all expectations kept for this purpose this year,” stated the news report.

What is causing the crisis in sales? The report says Mexican consumers have just not been flowing to the Free Zone as they normally would in previous years. Another factor is that Mexican customs are often confiscating products, such as wines and spirits, which sells very cheap in the free zone. Customs have also implemented high security measures, making the process of importing goods slow and frustrating.

Meanwhile, the Free Zone is constantly under scrutiny, and accusations of being a hub for illicit business. A recent report in Guatemala’s Siglo21 newspaper claimed that 12% of the cigarette consumed in Belize was derived from contraband through the Free Zone. Two years ago that amount was only 8%.

The report notes that contraband cigarettes pose a serious health risk, as the illegal modes and methods of transportation, are unsanitary and can cause mold or bacteria on the products.

The report raised alarm for Guatemala’s business sector, as it pointed out that a significant portion of the cigarette is then illegally exported to Guatemala. “Not only is this a health risk and negative economic issue, but also a national security issue for Central American countries,” states the report.

Funds obtained from contraband cigarette sales are used to carry out other illicit activities, such as human trafficking, and the contraband of other products.

A further study carried out by Guatemala’s Chamber of Industry found that there exist 43 “blind spots” where contraband goods are illegally transported between Guatemala and Mexico. When Corozal “experts” were consulted, they claimed the number of blind spots is actually 54.

Belize’s Free Zone authorities have always discredited all negative reports on the Free Zone as specially funded attempts to hurt their businesses.

Link to Original Article:

From Belize Times

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