Reinventing Belize

Sep 1, 2001

Twenty years after gaining independence from the UK, Belize is struggling to define itself while dealing with mounting debts. It is also trying to diversify its agricultural-based economy.

Belize is Central American by location, but Caribbean by descent. Although it is 20 years since Belize won independence from London, it is still searching for an identity. Belizeans like to think of their country as a bridge between Central America and the Caribbean, a country offering the best of both worlds, yet retaining strong individual characteristics. Belize now faces the challenge of coping with the threats - and promises - presented by growing global trade integration.

Like many of Belize's Central American neighbors, the country depends heavily on agricultural exports. But world commodity prices continue to fall and the World Trade Organization is closing the door on preferential trading agreements after ruling quotas illegal in 1997. For years, the European Union gave preference to exports from former European colonies over mainly US-owned Latin American producers, but has vowed to eliminate all trading quotas by 2006.

Belize must now diversify its...

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