Inflation Rate Down in January

According to the Statistical Institute of Belize – the inflation rate in January of 2015 was down 1.1% from one year ago. This is owing to a sharp downturn in fuel prices – which also drove down the price of international airfares.

And while the price of beef, pork, fish, seafood and potatoes were up Red Kidney beans, eggs, sweet peppers, tomatoes, cabbage, and watermelon were down – leading to an overall 2.4% decrease in food prices.

Looking at the map, Punta Gorda was the only municipality to record an increase in consumer prices for the month, and that was a marginal 0.3 percent, while Belmopan had the greatest decrease, with an inflation rate of minues 1.8 percent.

Channel 7

The first statistics for 2015 by the Statistical Institute of Belize (SIB) were released this week.

In the area of external trade, imports rose slightly and exports fell over the previous year.

Belize imported $141 million worth of goods and exported just $28.9 million.

There were no crude petroleum exports for the month of January, negating rises in exports of major commodities including sugar, bananas and marine products.

There was a shift away from the U.S. as main export partner toward the United Kingdom (U.K.), mainly in farm shrimp and bananas.

In the area of imports, Belize is importing less diesel, seeing a drop of $10 million in mineral fuel and lubricants, as well as less whiskey and food and live animals.

However, the Commercial Free Zones are importing more cigarettes, shrimp feed imports and detergents, paints and construction materials, resulting in increases in these categories.

Mexico, Central America and China (People’s Republic) account for primary trading partners in this period.Measured year-over-year, consumer prices fell by 1.1% in January, mainly due to lower fuel prices and food prices, particularly for staples such as red kidney beans and eggs.

However, home rental prices are up 1.5% over last year.

Punta Gorda Town saw an average price increase of 0.3%, the only municipality to do so.

The central section of the country led the declines, with Belmopan’s prices down 1.8%, San Ignacio/Santa Elena 1.3% and Belize City 1.2% down from last year.

The Consumer Price Index and external trade statistics are released monthly and are available on the SIB website.

Lower exports help deepen trade deficit

Belize started off the year 2015 continuing the trend of exporting less and importing more, according to the most recent data released from the Statistical Institute of Belize.

SIB’s External Trade Bulletin for the month of January, which contains complete data, shows that exports were down by 23 percent, when compared to January of the previous year.

The drop in exports represents a $9.1 million loss in revenue, falling from $38 million in 2014, to $28.9 million. The SIB attributed the decline to the fact that there were no crude petroleum exports for January 2015; compared to the $13.1 million worth of crude petroleum in 2014.

The citrus industry also experienced a $1.5 million decline due to a drop in the export of citrus concentrate.

Some industries managed to produce increases, including marine products and bananas, which grew by $2.8 million and $1.3 million, respectively. Sugar and papayas also recorded small increases. However, these were not sufficient to offset the fall in crude petroleum exports for the period.

The fall in oil exports reduced the amount of revenue obtained from the United /States, Belize’s biggest trading partner, by $12.1 million, down from $19.9 million during last January. The United Kingdom, however, received an additional $3.3 million of Belize’s exports, up from $3.9 million to $7.2 million. Farm shrimp accounted for one-third of all exports destined for the United Kingdom, while Bananas accounted for the remaining two-thirds.

In imports, the country produced a 2.6 percent increase, for a value of $3.7 million, raising imports from $138 million in January 2014 to $142.6 million. The ‘Mineral Fuels and Lubricants’ category fell by $10.1 million from $26.2 million to $16.1 million, due largely to the continued decline in fuel prices, in particular, diesel.

Imports to the ‘Commercial Free Zones’ grew by $10.1 million from $18.1 million in 2014 to $28.2 million in 2015. Cigarettes accounted for a large portion of this increase, with imports of that product almost doubling from $6.6 million to $12.3 million. “A $2 million increase in shrimp feed imports accounted for a large part of the $4.6 million growth in goods destined for the Export Processing Zones.

Notable increases of $2 million and $2.4 million also occurred from purchases of ‘Chemical Products’ and ‘Manufactured Goods’, respectively, as imports of detergents, paints, and various construction materials rose during the year,” said the SIB.

The Reporter