Belize has its first cement plant capable of supplying local demand and the CARICOM export market. The Cementos Rocafuerte plant is an investment from Guatemala-based Cementos Progreso that for years now has been exporting bagged cement to Belize, along with other manufacturers in Mexico and Central America. Sited on a 25 acre facility at mile 34 near the capital Belmopan, the opening of Belize’s first cement factory signals progress towards an industrialized and developed country.
Prime Minister John Briceño was at the inauguration of the plant and stated that the idea for this factory was a long time in development, and that it will largely impact Belize’s development for the better.
“It started a few years ago when, as I’m told, the people from the Santander Group of companies, the managers from Cementos Progreso, they know one another personally and they decided to come and take a look at Belize and they liked what they saw and decided to make this investment that we’re inaugurating today. As I mentioned earlier, there’s a lot of opportunities in Belize, the problem is that many people don’t know about the opportunities, and so we have also to ensure that we use this investment as an example so that other people from Central America can come in an invest in Belize. By investing in Belize, we create opportunities, we create taxes, we collect taxes, we create job for people and using Belize as a springboard to markets for instance like in CARICOM and in other areas so we’re quite excited about this investment and we’re quite hopeful that it is something that we’d be able to create opportunities for Belize, help with the balance of payments. We have a huge imbalance, so we have to find anyway to attract investment in Belize to make things better for Belize and it goes in line with what we’ve been saying in Plan Belize.”
CEO of Cementos Progresso, Jose Raul Gonzalez, explained that a cement factory is what Belize needs to grow its infrastructure.
Jose Raul Gonzalez, CEO, Progreso “We are proudly now producing cement made in Belize by Belizean hands. For us, it was very important to consolidate the presence of Progreso in Guatemala and for Belize to have strategic source of a product that mean development, that mean progress, and that is very important for the infrastructure of this country . It’s been a little bit more than 8 million dollars in investment, European technology that you will see, which meets all environmental and quality standards that this country deserves. It was a few years ago when Mario and Fernando and I visited and the ministers at that time and we were very pleased by the welcome of the authorities and the support that we received from them even during the pandemic. So the show must go on, life must go on, and the development of Belize shouldn’t be stopped neither by the virus nor by the lack of proper building materials which we can proudly say that we have around 28 Belizeans employed in the initial phase of the investment here in Belize.”
The PM said he hopes those contracted by the Ministry of Infrastructure will consider using local cement.
Hon. John Briceño, Prime Minister “We’re hoping that the cement is going to be cheaper and more easily available and so that we would definitely encourage the users that are working with government and even for personal use, the local contractors, to use the cement. It is Belizean product and the more they can sell in Belize, it’s better for us because we collect more taxes and we import less.”
According to the International Trade Centre Belize imported over US$11 million of cement in 2020.