A Billion Opportunities: Doing Business In Belize
Belize isn’t only a vacation paradise for scuba divers, eco-tourists, and nature lovers. A politically and financially stable English-speaking democracy, it offers exciting business opportunities for the investor, the would-be expatriate and those seeking the shelter of an off-shore business corporation or trust.
According to Forbes:
Belize ranks #4 “If your dream of a new life overseas is all about soft white sand, lapping azure sea and swaying palm fronds, San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, should be at the top of your I’m-going-to-go-have-a-look list
Opportunities For Export Investments
Being a member of CARICOM (Caribbean Community) as well as a member of SICA (Sistema de la Integracion Centroamericana), the country has good potential for regional trade – much of it underutilized. Our country is now implementing an Economic Partnership Agreement with the European Union (EU), and plans to establish other international economic agreements. Trade with Central America and Mexico is small due to successive Belizean governments traditionally looking to the tiny island nations in the Caribbean for trade. But the weight of requirements by bodies such as the WTO is slowly forcing Belize to accept the reality that there are many missed opportunities for trade with its Central American neighbours.
In a world that pays a premium
for niche products that are natural, organic or have a fair trade relationship, this country makes an ideal target for investors. Growing demand for the Made In Belize brand includes Fair Trade sugar, honey, cocoa, orange and other citrus juices, pepper sauces and condiments. The government officially encourages investments in the following key sectors: agriculture, furniture manufacturing, agro processing, call centers and tourism. The government run Belize Trade and Investment Development Service, BELTRAIDE can be a starting point to obtaining assistance on navigating the various rules and permits required to invest in Belize:
Here are the top 16 reasons to invest in Belize:
- High demand, little supply. By the end of 2016, Belize tourism numbers clocked in at the highest EVER in the last 20 years. These overnight arrivals have grown 44% in the past five years alone! With 70-75% of all tourists who visit Belize heading straight to San Pedro, the number of hotel rooms being developed on Ambergris Caye in the next five years cannot sustain this kind of demand. Therefore, many industry experts predict Ambergris Caye real estate prices and hotel room rates to continue their strong upward trend.
- English is the official language in Belize, including for all real estate transactions, legal matters, and business contracts. Who wants to be required to learn another language at retirement?
- There is no capital gains tax and no estate tax in Belize. If you invest in a property that appreciates in value that you sell at a later date for a gain, the Belize government does not tax your earnings.
- It’s an overnight rental market. Since Ambergris Caye is such a popular vacation destination, the market demand is for nightly rentals, as opposed to monthly rentals. This multiplies the income potential of many investment properties, and gives owners much more flexibility for personal use of their island getaway. For instance, it’s not uncommon to see $400+ per night rental rates on properties that would otherwise rent for $1800 per month.
- The income tax rate in Belize on all real estate rental income is only 1.75%!
- Property taxes in Belize are extremely low — just a few hundred dollars annually on most new properties.
- Belize is governed by British Common Law, which for real estate investors means you can have full property ownership with land title, just as in the US and Canada. In other retirement destinations such as Mexico, foreign-born citizens cannot as easily own land in their own name.
- The Belize QRP (Qualified Retirement Program) is generous and allows retiree status as young as 45 years old!
- Asset protection. Foreign ownership can offer another layer of protection from litigation in the US.
- Location, location, location. Not only is it one of the most spectacular places on earth, Belize is only a 2-hour flight from Miami, and 2.5 hours from Houston. Most Americans live closer to Belize than Hawaii!
- Ambergris Caye was rated as the TripAdvisor® #1 Island in the World two years in a row 2013-2014. In fact, this Caribbean island is the ONLY island in the world to receive this honor two years back-to-back!
- Ambergris Caye, Belize was named a Top Retirement Destination by U.S. News & World Report® in 2016.
- Time zones in Belize are always convenient to North America. Belize is never more than 2 hours from PST or EST. (Belize doesn’t observe daylight savings time, so half of the year the country is on CST, and the other half MST.) This is important for ease of doing business and staying in contact with friends and family.
- Belize has a growing economy. The recent expansion of the international airport in Belize City, the addition of several major airlines in 2015-2016, and the increase of current airline routes to Belize are great indicators of a growing economy and tourist industry. This means economic security, strong property values, and the attraction of entrepreneurs to do business in prime tourist areas — which in turn increases quality of goods and other lifestyle conveniences for Belizean residents and retirees.
- Affordable airfare to Belize. The increase in airline service to BZE (Belize’s only international airport) means more competition and a decrease in airfare prices.
- Upon paying a visit to your tax accountant, you may discover that trips to check on your property could become tax write-offs when you invest in Belize!
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