Canada and Belize have positive bilateral relations, based in part on our shared historical traditions, systems of government and cultural ties as members of the Commonwealth. Due to its geographic location, Belize is considered both a Central American and Caribbean country and it benefits from networks in both regions.
Canada is engaged with Belize on a wide range of issues, including development, defense, citizen security and climate change.
Belize benefits from CIDA’s Caribbean Community regional programming, as well as the Canada Fund for Local Initiatives (CFLI) and is eligible to benefit from CIDA’s regional $600 million fund in the Commonwealth Caribbean. From 2007-2009, Canada also provided $85,000 to the Global Climate Observing System to implement a technical support project for the Americas, hosted in Belize by the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre.
The Canadian Department of Defence is examining opportunities to help strengthen the capacity of the Belizean Defence Force (BDF) to support civilian authorities in addressing threats including organized crime. For example, they are working with Belizean officials to determine the most effective means to provide assistance with their strategic defence and security review and, the Canadian Forces donated 2,000 Load Carrying Vests to the BDF in 2012.
Sharing land borders with Mexico and Guatemala, in addition to a lengthy Caribbean coastline, Belize has witnessed the increased activity of national and transnational criminal groups, and is increasingly being used as a corridor for illegal trade in drugs, arms and people. Belize benefits from regional security projects under DFAIT's Anti-Crime Capacity Building Program (ACCBP)
With a GDP of CAD$1.66 billion in 2013, Belize is the smallest economy in Central America.
Two-way trade between Canada and Belize totaled $23.2 million in 2014. Canadian exports to Belize totaled $21.5 million in 2014 and included machinery, malt, and tobacco. Imports from Belize in 2014 totaled $1.6 million. Belize benefits from CARIBCAN, Canada’s preferential trade arrangement under which 97% of Commonwealth Caribbean exports to Canada enter duty free.
The majority of Canadian investment in Belize is in the financial services, energy and forestry sectors. Potential for the expansion of Canadian economic interests in Belize remains positive but limited, due to the small size of the market.
Belize and Guatemala have a long-standing territorial dispute, in which Guatemala claims a portion of Belizean territory. In December 2008, following negotiations led by the OAS Secretary General, Guatemala and Belize officially agreed to take the steps necessary under their own national laws to refer their border dispute to the International Court of Justice (ICJ). Before being formally presented to the ICJ, the agreement requires the approval of the legislative branches of both countries, and must then be put to the citizens in domestic referenda. The Belizean parliament and Guatemalan congress have both approved the agreement and both countries announced on April 27, 2012 that they would hold simultaneous referenda on October 6, 2013 on the question of the Adjacency Zone.
The OAS plays a key mediating role and maintains an office in the Adjacency Zone located at the only point of legal passage between the two countries, known as the Adjacency Zone. The critical functions provided by the OAS Office in the Adjacency Zone are supported by Canada through DFAIT’s START program.
Belize is an increasingly popular destination with Canadian tourists. Furthermore, it is home to some 3,000 Canadian Mennonites.
In Belize, Canada is represented by the Embassy of Canada in Guatemala City. Belize is represented in Canada through an Embassy in Washington, D.C. and a consulate in Calgary.
Canada’s anti-crime efforts in Central America are largely conducted through the Anti-Crime Capacity Building Program (ACCPB) managed by the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade. This program provides funding for projects that increase local capacities in the Americas to address illicit trafficking of goods and people, money laundering and the proceeds of crime, security system reform and crime prevention. The bulk of the assistance, which focuses on security sector reform and border management, is delivered via institutional partners such as the UN Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the Organization of American States (OAS), and INTERPOL, in addition to direct, country-specific bilateral assistance provided by Canadian government departments and non-governmental organizations.
Institutional Capacity Building for Crime Prevention Through the Central American Integration System Observatory and Index on Democratic Security
Announced: 5 June 2012 in Cochabamba, Bolivia
Implementing partner: Centre for International Studies and Cooperation
Funding announced: $1,491,293
Timeframe: February 2012 to December 2014
This project will support specialized training for authorities from Central American Integration System (SICA) member states in methods of collecting, analyzing and disseminating crime data; implementing regional assessment tools; and developing expertise in investigating security incidents, crime and violence. This will result in increased institutional capacity for crime prevention in Central America by building upon and strengthening the capacity of SICA member states and civil society organizations to produce, utilize and disseminate strategic information on regional security, crime and violence prevention. Regional stakeholders will participate in coordination and training activities to facilitate in-depth crime analysis and develop regional crime-prevention strategies.
Announced: 15 April 2012 in Cartagena, Colombia
Implementing partner: Forensic Technology, Inc.
Funding announced: $2,084,044
Timeframe: March 2012-June 2012
This project is being implemented in Belize and Costa Rica, and involves the deployment of Integrated Ballistic Identifications Systems equipment, which reads bullets and bullet cartridges and facilitates the identification of weapons used in crimes. CABIN complements existing regional capabilities and is aimed at developing an Integrated Ballistic Information Network across Central America. Data collected through this network can be shared with other law enforcement communities via national and regional networks, such as INTERPOL. This will allow for better cross-jurisdictional coordination and investigations, helping to solve cross-jurisdictional crimes.
Canada also supports security efforts through the Stabilization and Reconstruction Task Force (START), also managed by Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada, which has been working in Guatemala since 2009 and has implemented projects that improve citizen access to security and justice institutions and also promote fundamental human rights. START programming is divided into 3 funds – Global Peace and Security Fund, Global Peace Operations Program and the Glynn Berry Fund.
Increasing Security at the Guatemala-Belize Border
Announced: 5 June 2012 in Cochabamba, Bolivia
Implementing partner: OAS Office in the Adjacency Zone
Funding Announced: $1 million
Timeframe: June 2012 to March 2013
This project aims to support Guatemala and Belize in resolving their long-standing territorial dispute. National referendums will be held in both countries on October 6, 2013, on referring the border dispute to the International Court of Justice. The OAS provides impartial accounts to both parties of incidents at the border, and these allow a dialogue based on consistent and neutral information. The project also aims to reinforce security at the border by strengthening the capacity of Guatemalan and Belizean security services (police, military and migration) at the border zone, which is the scene of sporadic violent incidents, as well as a fertile ground for drug trafficking and other organized crime activities.
Support for the Organization of American States Regional Mediation Capacity Building Project
Announced: 23 June 2011 in Guatemala City, Guatemala
Implementing partner: OAS Department of Democratic Sustainability and Special Missions
Funding Announced: $603,000
Timeframe: June 2011 – July 2012
This initiative’s objective is to strengthen the institutional capacity of the Organization of American States’ Department of Democratic Sustainability and Special Missions and its ability to support and conduct mediation initiatives in Central America, the Caribbean and the Andean region. Part of this contribution supports the conflict prevention activities of the OAS Office in the Belize-Guatemala Adjacency Zone. Canada has provided $603,000 in funding and technical assistance through the GPSF.
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