2011 Live and Invest In Belize Conference Day 1

Teased And Tempted From A Distance

I’m not there either. Like you, I’m being teased and tempted from a distance.

Lief Simon, in Belize since Saturday to host this week’s conference taking place in Belize City, wrote overnight to report, “Lots going on in the Cayo since our last visit six months ago. This really is the part of this country to focus on for investment right now. The region offers a back-to-basics product whose time has come.

“I found a piece of land that could be ideal for a nice, small, easy project. I’m speaking with Phil Hahn about putting the pieces together…”

Lief will have the details for his Marketwatch members.

Meantime, friend and attorney in Belize City for the first time in a long time to address the group on the tax and business benefits of incorporating offshore, reported in this morning to say:

“I’d forgotten how much fun this place can be. A couple of girls came up to me while I was eating lunch by the pool Sunday to drop off their phone numbers…and then two others did the same at the cocktail party at Old Belize last night…”

Belize Correspondent Ann Kuffner, who promised to be my eyes and ears in the meeting rooms, filed her report, as well. Here are highlights from yesterday’s opening day sessions…

The big news in Belize is the growth of oil production in this country. It has expanded to become 30% of GDP in seven years. People in the industry are saying Belize could become the Kuwait of Central America.

The challenge now is to balance this agenda (which could mean serious money for this little, off-the-radar country) with the environmental concerns. Eco-tourism is Belize’s other major income producer. And anyone who’s been to Belize would agree that its rain forests are one of its greatest attractions.

Another is this country’s respect for things like privacy, personal freedom, and self-determination.

Ask anyone you meet in Belize, local or expat, what he likes most about the country, and his response will have something to do with these intangibles. Less and less prized or even possible elsewhere in the world, in Belize, making your own way and minding your own business are a way of life.

This remains a frontier, a place where someone with a little ingenuity can build whatever life he imagines for himself. The government doesn’t have enough money to get up to much trouble. In practical terms, this means you’ll find few impediments to doing whatever you decide you’d like to do.

The growth this country continues to see (an average of 6% per year for the past three years) is coming largely from Americans, who are recognizing the appeals and seeking out new lives here in growing numbers. They’re coming to Belize for safe haven, escape, and a chance to recreate for themselves a lifestyle they perceive to be slipping away in the States.

For these pioneers, Belize rolls out the welcome mat. The government of Belize is working to make it as easy as possible for Americans and others to settle and to invest (eager, yes, to facilitate the in-flow of your Greenbacks, euro, etc.). Meantime, the people of Belize are doing what they do best. They’re doing their thing and happy to let you do yours.

Sure, Belize wants your hard currency. But it wants you, too. This country is a melting pot, home to one of the most eclectic population mixes you’ll find anywhere on the planet. And, somehow, all these folks, of every color, religion, and ethnicity you could name, manage to get along.

If I wanted to start over…to reinvent myself and my life…Belize is where I would head right now.

The dozen-plus speakers who addressed the more than 80 readers in attendance yesterday for the opening day of our Live & Invest in Belize Conference began to lay out a plan for how to do just that.

From where to invest in real estate for long-term capital appreciation to what kinds of businesses this expanding economy would welcome…

From how to establish residency to how to ship your personal belongings (duty-free), how to open a bank account, and how to choose among the best health insurance options…

From a virtual tour of the key regions of this country, places where an expat or retiree might feel at home, to where to go to see a jaguar in the wild and the best rivers for tubing…

I wish I’d been able to join them.

Kathleen Peddicord

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