Due To Citrus Woes
In 2012, Belize’s robust economic growth was praised throughout the region as GDP grew by 6%. Projections for 2013 were more conservative, at an expected 2 to 2.5% - but there was still hope that the 2012 momentum would carry over. Well it hasn’t – and the only growth to report from the first quarter is negative growth!
Figures released today by the Statistical Institute of Belize show that the economy contracted by point-five per cent (.5%) in the first quarter of 2013. That’s sharply down from the first three months of 2012 when growth clocked in at 6.1 percent.
So, what went wrong? Well, there were sharp downturns in citrus, crude petroleum and electricity production and a modest contraction in bananas. Citrus was the hardest hit with fruit and juice production declining by about 35 percent and 40 percent, respectively, the lowest in 18 years! According to the Statistical Institute some of this is owing to heavy rains in the southern districts.
And while citrus had its lowest first quarter out-turn in two decades, Sugar had its best year since the early 90’s, growing by 4%.
And while rains affected the south, Electricity generation, declined considerably because of low rainfall at the Chalillo and Mollejon hydroelectric plants.
Crude oil production, which is Belize’s biggest export earner fell for the third straight year as the Spanish Lookout Oil Field nears depletion.
On the upside, the service industry led by tourism, expanded by 5.3 percent.
Overall the first quarter contraction is bad news for Belize because the first quarter – based on tourism numbers is usually the strongest – so this does not BODE WELL for the year end figures.