At a working breakfast on Wednesday, February 25th, Mexico’s new Ambassador to Belize, His Excellency Carlos Quesnel Melendez met with members of the media to tell them about Mexico’s new initiative to establish closer ties of friendship and collaboration with Belize. Ambassador Quesnel Melendez heads a new team of dedicated embassy professionals whose aim is to strengthen and expand commercial, cultural and friendship ties at many levels.
President Enrique Peña Nieto has spent the first year of his administration putting in place a number of structural reforms aimed at taking Mexico to a new level of productivity and advancement, which is to take into account Belize’s strategic importance as Mexico’s southern neighbour.
Ambassador Quesnel Melendez pointed out that historically the two countries have enjoyed an excellent relationship, based on mutual respect and cooperation. But now the Peña Nieto government is focused on strengthening the relaionship of Belize as a strategic partner as well as a good neighbour.
While trade between Belize and Mexico has thrived, (Belizean exports to Mexico grew by 105 pecent last year, and Mexico has become the second largest provider of exports to Belize), Mexico wants to do more.
Mexico would like to have a commercial ag-reement with Belize to bolster the integration between both countries. Mexico also wants to increase its presence in CARICOM, and regards partnership with Belize as a key step in achieving this goal.
Mexico is looking to invest more in Belize and her Embassy has been enjoined to explore business opportunities in the Belizean market.
Belize has started to see some of these results with Mexican investors acquiring the island of Caye Chapel as a tourist haven, but there are investors in Monterrey and Mexico City who also are looking for opportunities to invest.
Mexico and Belize need to work together to take the tourist sector to new heights of prosperity, Ambassador Quesnel Melendez said. He was impressed that Belize, a country of some 350,000 in population, could attract and accommodate more than a million tourists last year!
He pointed out that the province of Quintana Roo had attracted more than 11.5 million international visitors last year, and concluded that this represents a great opportunity for Belize, to take an even bigger share of the tourism pie.
Belize and Mexico have regularly-scheduled flights from Cancún and Mérida and overland routes as well. Still the embassy wants to explore other avenues to promote more direct flights to Belize.
The Embassy in Belize is working to make the Chetumal-Belize border crossing a seamless and pleasant experience, and to this end, is promoting the Regional Visitor Card, which gives every card-holder easy access to the States of Chiapas, Tabasco, Campeche and Quintana Roo.
At present these handy immigration cards are available only at the border, but plans are under way to make these free border passes available in Belize, perhaps at Belmopan.
Belize and Mexico already have a well developed programme of co-operation in the field of education, where the University of Belize offers language courses in English and Mexico offers a number of free scholarship opportunities for Belizeans to study at various universities in Mexico.
At the meeting with the media, Ambassador Quesnel Melendez referred to the important work of the Mexico-Belize Bi-National Commission where the two countries work closely in areas of agriculture, energy, the environment, health Bi-national Commission, and technical education. He revealed that other cooperation projects under consideration included a proposal to link the Be-lize Zoo with counterparts in Mexico City and other programe os cultyutal significance and programmes of technical educa-tion, teaching formation, archeological discovery and preservation, and in sports, culture and art.