Belize records strong economic growth Print E-mail
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Friday, 30 November 2018 00:00

The Statistical Institute of Belize released its latest figures for the 3rd quarter of Belize’s 2018 economy. At a press conference on Wednesday, November 28, 2018, three statisticians gave presentations on Gross Domestic Product (GDP) Estimates, External Trade Statistics for January to October 2018, and Consumer Price Index (CPI) Statistics for the same period.

Presenting on the GDP for this quarter was Angelita Campbell, Statistician II, who says that there has been a 3.3% increase in GDP when comparing the months of July to September in 2018 to the same period of 2017. While primary and tertiary activities have gone up, secondary ones have gone down. The Statistical Institute of Belize (SIB) has estimated that the total value of goods and services produced in the country during this period was $670.9 million, an increase of $21.2 million, produced in the 3rd quarter.

She further went into detail, describing the increases and decreases of the primary, secondary and tertiary sectors. The primary sector, which accounts for approximately 1/10 of Belize’s economic activity, saw an increase of 6.3% when compared to the same period in 2017. The increase in poultry, livestock, and cattle productive, 1.9%, 9.1%, and 32.3% respectively, was due to an increased market demand. Unlike these, banana production saw a slight decrease of 0.3%, due to adverse weather conditions. There was a 2.6% decline in the secondary sector due to reduced production in several industries. A reduced output of flour and petroleum resulted in a 3.3% drop in the “Manufacturing and Mining” sector. Insufficient rainfall in the Vaca Reserve Area led to a 1.4% decrease in electricity generation and because water generation only rose by 0.1%, “Electricity and Water” activities declined overall by 1.1%. Construction saw a decrease of 4.7% as work in some municipalities decrease but there was 4.1% increase in beverage production, attributed to increased market demand of soft drinks and beer. Tertiary activities, which attributes to more than 50% of the country’s total economy, grew by 3.7% after the “Hotels and Restaurants” sub sector grew by 17.2%. This growth is due mainly to a 15.3% increase in overnight visitors. Campbell also made note of the fact that increased direct flights to Belize led to an overall increase in number of visitors from the United States, 16.2%, Europe, 22.7%, and Canada, 56.7%. An additional 27 cruise ship calls to Belize for the same period reflected a 55.5% growth while “Government Services” rose by 1.2%.

Melvin Perez, Statistician II, presented on the CPI for the months of July to September 2018. SIB’s October 2018 CPI survey shows that October’s CPI stood at 105.3. This translates to a 0.8% inflation compared to a CPI of 104.6 in October 2017. “Housing, Water, Electricity, Gas, and Other Fuels” was the main contributors to the rise in CPI for October 2018, showing a 1.5% inflation; this is due to a 1.1% increase in higher rental costs in San Ignacio/Santa Elena and Punta Gorda and an average rise of $15 in Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) per 100-pound cylinder. There was also a 4.1% increase in the “Fuels and Lubricants” subcategory; when compared to October 2017, at the pump, diesel went up by 11.3% and regular gas went up by 7.8% while premium gasoline fell by 0.9%. Food and non-alcoholic beverages saw a deflation of 0.9%; lower prices were recorded for pig tail, whole chicken, and several fruits and vegetables.

Presenting on External Trade was Tiffany Vasquez, Statistician II. Imports saw an increase of 14.4%, an increase of $24.3 million from $168.7 million in October 2017, while exports went down by 5.1% for the month of October 2018. A significant 71% growth in the category of “Mineral Fuels and Lubricants”, from $17.5 million to $29.9 million, along with a sizable increase of 55% increase in the purchase of “Chemical Products”, from $13.5 million to $20.9 million, were the leading factors for the rise in imports. “Commercial Free Zones” also contributed to the increase in imports; these imports went up from $31.6 million to $35.8 million and is accounted to an increased purchase of cigarettes, women’s clothing, and footwear. Some decreases were noted in the category of “Other Manufactures” which saw a decrease from $15.4 million to $13.5 million as a result of fewer purchases of metal furniture, medical equipment, and laboratory plastics. Exports went from $37.1 million in October 2017 to $35.2 million in October 2018. A steep decline in the export of sugar, from $9.4 million to $2.2 million, can be attributed to that decrease. The export of citrus products remain almost unchanged while the export of marine products increased from $4.4 million to $5.8 million, driven mostly by the sale of conch. The export of crude petroleum did not see much change but earnings rose from $6.3 million to $8.7 million.