BBN 2021 year review, part III. Business and Economy
Posted: Thursday, December 30, 2021. 10:30 p.m. CST.
By Aaron Humes: Perhaps the most significant economic story of 2021 has been its apparent comeback, with sugar, other agricultural commodities and tourism posting solid numbers in terms of economic growth. Unemployment fell and other economic indicators mostly improved, although inflation continued to weigh on the broadly positive news.
But ‘King Sugar’ started and ended 2021 in turmoil. There were disputes over production estimates that delayed the start of the season, and then Belize Sugar Industries Limited / American Sugar Refining (BSI / ASR) was disappointed that the government agreed to allow grinding. 50,000 tonnes of cane from farmers in the North by Sucre de Santander in Cayo. This, however, never materialized due to the threat of legal action and a commitment by BSI to grind all the cane available.
But the dominant story most recently has been the battle between BSI / ASR and the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association (BSCFA) over their trade deal, which the BSCFA wrote in August to end months before it expired in January. . After an absolute “zero tolerance position” even at the start of negotiations, the Millers slowly moved towards the possibility of an interim deal for delivery throughout the season, which began on December 27. However, there is a blockage at the moment as BSCFA wants a guarantee of rod delivery throughout the season, which BSI says it is considering.
In addition, Belize’s lawsuit against Trinidad and Tobago for alleged failure to enforce tariffs on sugar purchased outside of CARICOM has been taken to the Caribbean Court of Justice and is awaiting a decision.
The system suffered shocks from repeated fluctuations in the prices of vehicle fuel and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), which in turn affected the prices of locally produced and imported products.
The second big story of 2021 is the withdrawal of the Superbond in October, after the government completed a long and complex series of negotiations with powerful players in the United States and elsewhere. The result was a 55-cent-on-the-dollar “haircut” for most bondholders and a return to “Blue Bonds” backed by Nature Conservancy (TNC) / Credit Suisse, which will allow the proceeds to be used as endowment for conservation projects. The government has also entered into an agreement with TNC on the conservation of the “Maya Forest of Belize” and associated carbon credits.
While this is an issue we will address in more detail in Social Issues as part of this review, the pay cut affecting teachers and civil servants was another shock.
But the government rekindled some interest in investing in Belize at the November investment summit and decided to sign partial-scope agreements with Guatemala and Mexico to help exports to those countries, especially of livestock. .
And finally, there was a controversy over the exit of Central Bank Governor Manuel Vasquez, who was eventually replaced by his deputy Kareem Michael in December.
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