Guatemala Proposes Free Trade with Belize

June 18, 2004

GUATEMALA CITY (AFP) – Thegovernment this week proposed beginningfree-trade negotiations with Belizeas an effort to improve strained relationscaused by an ongoing border conflictbetween the two countries, saidGuatemalan Foreign Minister Jorge Briz.The border issue between Guatemalaand Belize has flared several times inpast years, most recently in April whenseveral Belizean soldiers shot andwounded a Guatemalan campesino anddetained another.Guatemala claims Belize has usurpedsome 12,272 square kilometers of its territory– almost half the size of Belize.The Guatemalan proposal is to developa trade agreement that focuses on economicdevelopment and construction ofinfrastructure in the disputed border area.

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