From: "Dennis L. Feucht
Date: Thu, 19 Jul 2001
To answer your Belizean investment query!
I am an electronics engineer and entrepreneur (www.innovatia.com) planning relocation to Belize, with my electronics design activities. I have been studying the issue of your interest, including a discussion with Beltrade in Belmopan last November and with the Assistant Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Economic Development in 1999. (I have learned the most from a few individuals on the BZ-culture list-server, however, and from expatriate North Americans in Belize.)
Ray's (BZ Development Trust) comments reflect my findings. The BZ government is parasitic upon anyone with money, but they have little money to regulate business (though the government is highly bureaucratized). It's a do-it-yourself country. Your success in Belize will depend upon the size and nature of your operation. If you operate a small design service, where the product is telecom- or mail-exportable information, produced by a few skilled technical people using modest design facilities, it will possibly succeed. If, on the other hand, you go in at a high level with trumpets sounding, make deals with the government, build expensive facilities, hire local employees, and export tangible items subject to export duty, then beware of the many failed precedents of this kind. Do not try to export the typical American business model into Belize. "It's not just another country; it's another culture."
Keep in mind that Belizeans with advanced-technology skills are almost entirely in N. America, not Belize. You can attempt to recruit them back home (a good possibility for some) or bring in non-Belizeans, a more politically difficult task. Secondly, the communications infrastructure in Belize is a telecom monopoly owned by Michael Ashcroft, who also owns the Belize Bank. (This monopoly shows signs of termination, however.) And the electricity provider, BEL, is also a monopoly. However, the major parcel services are available (Fedex, DHL. Airborne) and cost of living (Belize-style) is certainly lower than in the Bay Area, with a good (though different) quality of life. The Belize airport is a 1.5 hour flight away from Houston. Belize is still in the colonial phase of development with a city-level government running a country.
I am putting together a "colony" of American associates and friends to live on land I have acquired in western Belize, to be largely self-sufficient, and to do technology (power and instrumentation/control electronics, energy conversion) product development there.
I would be glad to discuss what I know with you further.