Posted: Wednesday, September 30, 2020. 1:29 pm CST.
By BBN Staff: The Government of Belize and the Government of Taiwan today signed an Economic Cooperation Agreement (ECA) at the Laing Building in Belize City.
The Economic Cooperation Agreement was signed on Belize’s behalf by Tracy Panton, Minister of State with responsibility for Investment, Trade and Commerce, witnessed by H.E. Remus Chen, Taiwan’s Ambassador to Belize, and signed on Taiwan’s behalf by Minister Wang Mei-Hua, Minister of Economic Affairs.
The signing marks the culmination of work that started back in 2014 when Belize and Taiwan began discussions on the possibility of a trade agreement intended to deepen economic integration between our two economies.
Those initial discussions bore fruit in earnest last year when the Prime Minister of Belize, Dean Barrow, and the President of Taiwan, Dr. Tsai Ing-wen, agreed to approve pursuit of a formal trade agreement and committed their respective negotiating machineries to fulfilling this mandate.
In August of 2019, a trade mission to Taiwan, led by Panton, laid the groundwork ahead of subsequent formal negotiations.
The mission met with several key representatives and officials from the Government of Taiwan, as well as with representatives from Taiwan’s private sector. The mission culminated with the signing of a Letter of Intent that delimited the scope and principles for negotiations.
Formal negotiations began in Taiwan on 5 November and ended on 11 November 2019 with the parties reaching an agreement in principle in one round.
Given Belize’s membership in CARICOM, the negotiated agreement had to be subjected to CARICOM’s review to ensure that it did not prejudice the rights of other Member States.
On, 28 September 2020, Belize received the formal approval from CARICOM to sign the agreement.
The ECA provides for preferential treatment for Belize’s key agricultural and fisheries products, among other goods.
Furthermore, given the need to expand Belize’s export supply capabilities, the ECA also provides for financial and technical assistance from Taiwan for the development of institutional and technical capacities involved in trade, including in areas of plant and animal health, standards and technical regulations (including consumer protection), and export and investment promotion. This is aimed at assisting the productive sector to capitalize on meaningful export opportunities in Taiwan and other export markets available under existing trade agreements and those to be negotiated in the future.
The Government of Belize thanked all who worked diligently on the Belize side to finalize this propitious agreement.
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