The country of Mexico is one of Belize’s best friends, there is no doubt about that. A lot of us are descendants of Mexicans who came to seek refuge from the Caste War, Mayans and Spanish alike. Mexico also supports our independence and would like to see us prosper, unlike our neighbor to the West and South who would like to gobble us.
But, our trade imbalance is hugely in their favor and methinks they can do much more to help us.
At present, Belizeans trek across the border daily into Chetumal to purchase millions of pesos in all types of goods, paying a hefty 16% IVA tax. Normally this tax should be returned to foreigners who buy these products for export. Mexico’s stringent export laws discourage firms from exporting. Lately it has gotten worse as businesses who do not export a lot but were willing to do it before, no longer wish to do it. The products we bought from these, we now have to buy through an intermediary who is willing to export thus raising the prices. If the firm doing this is not large enough to claim the IVA we have to pay it and lose it.
Lately I have noticed that if you are bringing a medium sized purchase across either bridge their customs official would turn you back to go make a “Pedimento de Exportacion” (Export Document) for any purchase that looks a little too large. I once saw a person turned back for 10 cases of ceramic tiles which had cost him $2500.00 pesos; the export document cost him $1200.00 pesos at the time.
Another family informed me that they were lately bringing a washing machine which had cost them about $5500.00 pesos and were sent back in the middle of the night to get their “pedimento”. That document now costs between $1500.00 and $1700.00 pesos, and can only be done during normal working hours.
If we have already paid the taxes on these products why do we need to get a “Pedimento”? And if we are obligated to document our export, why can’t we reclaim our IVA Tax from the proper ministry (secretaria) instead of from the businesses who are reluctant to export? This way the cost of the “pedimento” will not hurt much.
Whenever Mexicans do their crossborder shopping in Texas all they have to do is a “manifiesto” which is easy to make and only costs a maximum of $20.00 used to get back their sales tax.
The millions of pesos we leave there by way of this tax could easily be used for purchasing more goods, from Mexico, and making life much easier for us.
At the same time I would like to urge GOB to ease the border crossing, costs and requirements, to Mexicans. They can only come with ease to a dying Free Zone, when lots of them would like to visit the interior of our country and support tourism, Where is the BTB, and what are they doing about this?