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Christian Burn of Grand Baymen – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Belize has a free market, capitalistic economic system. There is a social security safety net for people who are unemployed, there's maternity leave and there are a few social programs, but for the most part it’s private enterprise that’s driving that economy. Belize is less free market than Canada, but it is more free market than other neighboring countries.
 
Business here in Belize, however, is pretty regulated. I’m in tourism, which is a very large proportion of the GDP of Belize, so they are pretty invested in it.  They regulate and they keep their thumbs right on you. Everything is very regulated, including the work permit situation. They really check and they do sweeps regularly. They ask people to provide their documentation or identification. If you cannot provide documentation and identification and you're an expat, you're going home on a one-way trip. They are very serious about that and I am glad about it because first of all, Belizeans need jobs.
 
Foreigners who come to take Belizean jobs are certainly not appreciated, but at the same time the people of Belize recognize that some foreigners have a skill set that a citizen of Belize may not have, so for foreigners who do have skills the Belizeans do not, they don't make it too difficult to come down here and legally work.
 
Belize has laws and they take them seriously. When they have a law, they enforce it. The resources of the Belizean government are limited, but they try to enforce the law. If you want to go to Belize and have a business, let us say in tourism, you can expect to be regulated and you can expect that there is going to have to be some preference for Belizean workers, which is very reasonable because Belize is their country. If you're an entrepreneur and you're willing to come down and establish something, you work hard at it and involve the local people, the government will not try to prevent you from doing that. On the contrary, they will encourage you to do that. They want that kind of expat. If you want to open up a business, Belize will welcome you. They like entrepreneurs. Through proper licensing, you can pretty much set yourself up in any business.
 
If you're not hiring anybody but you're earning money through an internet-based business, you will be taxed depending on where the money goes. If the money goes to Belize, then there will be tax on that. If you want to hire someone, let us say some office staff and you need to hire some Belizeans, there are specific rules that you need to follow. For example, if you have more than 5 employees, you have to have the business registered, you have to make Social Security contributions on behalf of your employees, you have to pay them on time, and you have to give them a vacation. They have labor laws here in Belize.
 
You get to run your business how you want to. You just don't necessarily get to treat your employees the way you want to depending on where you're coming from. Even to shift the day off for employees, you have to give them a week’s notice. People get bereavement days, people get maternity leave, people get standard sick days, and they only can work a 46 hours a week without being paid overtime. This is just a fair bit of protection for the employees.
 
Some of the bigger corporations like Telemedia and the water company in Belize all have unionized employees, but most of the other businesses do not, because everything is smaller and ultimately because Belize has only about 300,000 people total. You do not get the big box stores or the chain hotels in Belize because of the small market size.
Virginia Krohn of Villa Cayo Belize – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Ambassador Moreno had the opportunity to meet with Angel Navidad, – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingBelize’s economic system is more free market and capitalistic. The economic system is very similar to the US.   
 
(US Ambassador  to Belize, Carlos Moreno with Belizean Angel Navidad, a student bound for Harvard University, pictured.)
Ryan Wrobel of Wrobel & Co., Attorneys-at-Law – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Belize  tour guide1 – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingThe economy in Belize is pretty much free market and import-driven.  Basically, anything goes.
 
Much of the major industries in Belize are controlled to some extent by monopolies. In the past, industries such as soft drinks and beer were more closed, but in the last few years, more and more products have come in and we’ve seen a lot of competition, which is good for the economy.
 
If, as an American, a Canadian, or a European you have great ideas, you can do well here. This is a market well acquainted with the United States because of television. People on the ground here know what is available outside the country even though it might not be available here. There are a lot of businesses or business ideas that could be implemented here that would be successful. With the right amount of capital and the right ideas, doing the proper amount of due diligence to ensure that you are dealing with reputable people, there are business opportunities here and it’s pretty much a “hands off” free market.  The government is not going to get involved as much as it would in other countries.  Belize is a great place to do business.
 
(Tour guide services in Belize, pictured.)
Kate Corrigan  of Georgetown Trust – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
The government of Belize gets very involved with things.  You have to remember that Belize is still described as a Third World country. I have to consider it  as a Two and a Half World. Belize is not quite Third World, because we have all the amenities you could possibly want. You might go to a store and not get bananas one day, but hey, you can buy oranges instead.
 
If you try to go into business in Belize, then there is a process that you have to go through. The local counsel, the local town board, and the government are involved in new things, so you can't just do just anything you want to do here.  There's a process that has to be approved and usually there are comments to be made and approvals to be obtained somewhere along the line for each organization.
 
It's very easy to start a business here in Belize. I think it's the same as anywhere else, where you see something you like and you go into the process of filling licenses, such as a trade license or a food license. You have to get all the same things as anywhere else, except that the process here is a bit different in Belize in that you just have to stand in line and be... nice.
 
You find out about the trade licenses under consideration as you're walking down the street and somebody would say "Hey Kate, why weren't you at the licensing board this morning?” It may turn out that everybody was there for the meeting, but I didn’t know about it, because I wasn't watching the news at that moment.
 
If you were to go to that meeting, it could be about someone trying to open up a business where the community comments on it because you need a trade license for a business that you want to run. So you would apply for it, and you would have to put an advertisement in the newspaper to say that you're applying for it so that anybody who wants to contest it could have an opportunity to say, for example, "No, Kate can't open that store here; she's got dirty fingernails", or  "No, Kate can't have that.  We don't want her having a business here because of (some other reason)”.  The licensing board meeting gives people the opportunity to say "no".  Then, once the application for a license has been reviewed by the officials with the responsibility for reviewing those types of licenses you’re seeking, they sit down, they ask you a few questions in the boardroom, they approve your license and they tell you how much you need to pay for the license.
 
You need a license if you are going to start a hotel or a restaurant and for businesses related to tourism. For a lawyer who wants to set up a firm, I believe you would have to have a trade license.
 
You would have to have police reports for all those types of things. You can't just set up a business until you have to have a license to do it, just like you have to have a building permit to build a house.
Frik De Meyere of Boris Mannsfeld & Associates – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
There are only 330,000 people in Belize and the vast majority of the population is under the age of 25. There is virtually no history in the country at all. It is a little tough to answer this question because there is not much of an economy in Belize. I would say, however, that Belize’s economic system is a hybrid of capitalistic and free market. I don’t think it is necessarily socialistic because there is not much of a middle class here.
 
As far as the government getting involved in regulation, they are fairly involved.

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