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Editorial- January 5th. 2020

Editorial- January 5th. 2020
January 03
10:44 2020

Editorial- January 5th. 2020

The big story of interest for the year just ended, apart from the referendum debate to take our land dispute with Guatemala to the International Court of Justice, was without a doubt, the economy.

As the country experiences a recession in the third quarter, concern at lagging tourism arrivals due to uncertainty over a trade war between the United States and China and a crippling drought which hit Belize with devastating force, caused the economic outlook for 2020 to be bleaker than expected.

The long awaited rains finally came in November and December, but were they enough for a thirsty land to recover, and will drought conditions return during the summer months of 2020?

Tourism, the stellar economic performer, struggled during the last quarter of 2019, but now that President Trump has announced that he will sign a trade agreement with China on January 15, the dark clouds of economic uncertainty may give way to renewed optimism. Belize’s agriculture and Belize’s fisheries have been the twin industries most affected by the drought.

Late last year Belize welcomed a new Fisheries Resource Act which will help to regulate the industry, but the legislation left a gaping escape route for poachers and gill-netters in the south. These two practices, gill-netting and poaching in the south are enough to drag down national production and stifle new initiatives such as a start-up of deep water fishing . It is too early to tell whether the new law will do anything to control the brisk trans-border informal trade in fish exports to Guatemala.

There is also the element of uncertainty brought on by general elections later this year. The United Democratic Party will be holding its leadership convention in February, and the 2020-21 budget is expected to be unveiled in March.

General elections can come as early as April or May 2020, preceded by the usual furious 30-day campaign.

The year 2020 will be a year of decision, and we can be sure of only one thing: that there will be lots of excitement! We hope to see thoughtful manifestos from both major parties for land reform, low-cost housing and progressive measures to stimulate and grow the economy to provide jobs and opportunity and hope for our young people who make up more than half of our Belize populaton (49.5 percent at or under age 24).

The stakes are high, and the party with the better plan will be the party that succeeds.

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