The budget will be debated tomorrow in Belmopan where the Opposition will get ample opportunity to criticize the UDP government’s economic performance.
And while all kinds of figures will be flying – what do the real numbers people, the statisticians say?
Well, the Statistical Institute of Belize released their final figures for October to December 2014, and invited the press to their presentation today.
Here’s what those numbers looked like:
Jefte Ochaeta – Statistician I
“As of October to December of 2014 we’re observing that our primary industries increased by 0.2% and that was mainly due because fishing activities are
showing a decline of 29.3% where we had less revenue in most our fish products. Shrimp exports for October to December account to be 12.1 million less
than what was exported in 2013 for the same period. And you can see the following number that also was hiking was conch, which was basically 5 million
less in the same period exported when compared to 2013. However we had an expansion in the agricultural activities. It was a 23.2% increase where we
had bananas increasing by 7,700 tons which is basically 30.2% more of the production that happened in 2013. That is accounted because in the year 2014,
we had a favourable climate for banana production. We didn’t have too much rain and we didn’t really have a lot of dry season - so it was favourable
for the banana.”
As seen here, livestock production in the last quarter has had the best performance in the past 7 years. There were 8.2 thousand head of cattle
produced, 2,700 more than in 2013, and more than double what was produced in 2008. The trend is similar for the pig farmers, where 4,500 head of swine
were produced, almost double what it was in 2013. In the poultry industry, SIB numbers say that 9.6 million pounds of poultry were produced, 0.9
million more than in 2013.
But, while those industries grew, the secondary industries such as manufacturing and mining, specifically, the petroleum industry were down.
Citrus was down by a massive 58%, which as we showed you yesterday, can be attributed to the citrus greening disease.
So, how did the last quarter performance affect the overall economic year of 2014? Well, not that much. SIB estimates that the economy has grown by
“At that period it was measured that the growth domestic product of Belize accounted 1.6 increase to what was produced in 2013 for the same period. The
cumulative growth for 2014 shows an estimate that the economy has expanded by 3.6% Remember this figure here will be modified because we’re just using
our quarterly figures as an estimate of what happened in the year. But as we get more information, the number will be modified for the actual growth
for 2014. The annual estimated as you can see our GDP was about 2.7 billion dollars at constant prices and that’s basically an increase of 10 million
dollars from last year at constant prices. We said that there was a change within the sectors that increased the GPD. The primary sector had the
largest increase which was mainly due because of agriculture production and solid fishery production in the first half of the year. Then the secondary
services, they grew by 2.2% and we’re accounting that to some increased in the citrus and electricity, trade and tourism services in the country.”
While there was an expansion of the economy, the secondary services declined by 0.3 percent, and the SIB is attributing that to petroleum, which is
expected, since the natural depletion of petroleum reservoirs continue to take place.
The Statistical Institute of Belize today released the Consumer Price Index, Gross Domestic Product and External Trade Stats for Belize for the end of last quarter and the first two months of this year. According to the S.I.B., the falling world fuel prices have made its mark on Belize’s economy. As of February, the prices of goods and services purchased by Belizean households fell by one point two percent and fuel prices dropped in that period. All municipalities across Belize recorded falling consumer prices during February 2015, with the exception of Dangriga, where there was a slight overall increase of point five percent; the biggest average drop was in Belmopan with a two point one percent decrease. Andrea Polanco was at today’s press conference where it was announced that imports and exports for January and February of this year are already registering an increase and decrease for the same period, respectively.
Andrea Polanco, Reporting
2014’s cumulative growth shows that the economy expanded by an estimated three point six percent, an increase in the Belize’s GDP. For 2015, imports for January and February have increased by over thirty million dollars compared to the same period last year.
Tiffany Vasquez, Statistician II, Economic Statistics, SIB
“In January and February of this year Belize imported goods totaling three hundred and fourteen point five million dollars; this represents an increase of thirty five point two million dollars or twelve point six percent from January and February of last year. Largest increases were observed in imports going to the commercial free zone and export processing zones. Imports going to the commercial free zones grew by sixteen million dollars due largely to increase purchases of cigarettes. While imports to the export processing zones grew by eleven point two million dollars due to a spike in shrimp feed purchases. Mineral andfuel lubricants, which include fuels, had the sharpest declineof thirteen point three million dollars. This drop is a reflection of falling world fuel prices. In fact, when barrels of 2014 were compared with barrels of 2015 of the same period, it was obvious that low fuel prices were the contributor to that decline.”
Consumer goods, like food and clothing, accounted for over eighteen percent of the imports. The United States continues to be the largest import market.
“The U.S continues to be Belize’s largest source of imports. In January and February of this year, Belize imported ninety one point seven million dollars worth of goods from America. This represented twenty nine point two percent of total imported goods in Belize. Twelve point two percent or thirty eight point three million dollars worth of goods were imported from Central America. While eleven point four percent of Belize’s goods came from China.”
Exports for this year are already less than ten million dollars compared to last year. Citrus, Banana, Sugar and Marine products have increased and Belize’s biggest markets are the European Union, followed by the U.S, CARICOM and Central America.
“Receipts from goods exported in January and February of this year were valued at seventy-nine million dollars, represents a decrease of twelve point three million dollars less than last year. This decline was due mostly to a twenty point seven million dollar drop in crude petroleum exports. Again, such a drop was reflective of falling fuel prices worldwide. Offsetting this decline slightly were Belize’s major exports. Banana exports grew by one point nine million. Citrus grew by one point five million while sugar and marine grew by one point two million.”
2014 Fourth Quarter Gross Domestic Product Information and February CPI and External Trade
GDP Grows by 3.6%
Belize continues to set the pace for the region in economic development as the latest figure from the Statistical Institute of Belize shows that the economy grew by 3.6 % in the calendar year 2014. Growth slowed in the fourth quarter of the year to 1.6 % mainly due to shortfalls in the secondary sector. Despite this, still subject to later adjustment, the production value for 2014 is listed as $2.73 Billion.
From October to December 2014, in the primary sector the banana industry grew by more than 30 % when compared to the same period in 2013. That is an additional 7000 metric tonnes. Banana and grapefruit with an increase of an incredible 50.7 % were almost solely responsible for the strong performance of the agricultural sector in the fourth quarter. There was no sugarcane production during this time due to the delay in the start of the crop. There was also no harvesting of orange or lime since the fruit had not yet reached the desired maturity level. In the secondary sector, water distribution increased by 3.6 percent and softdrink production increased by 9 percent. Beer and liquor had minor increases as well. In the tertiary sector, the service sector which accounts for half of the country’s total economy grew by 3.6 %. This was driven by a growth of 15 % and 9 % in hotels and restaurant industry and wholesale and retail trade respectively. Overnight tourist arrivals grew by 3.6% (2,000 guests) and cruise tourist arrivals increased by 38.1 % (over 75,000 more).
Hurting the economy in the final quarter of 2014 in the primary sector was a 29 % decrease in the fishing industry. Shrimp production was the root cause; however, industry insiders say that was a market driven decline. One source says an international player over produced shrimp and dumped it in the Mexican market which drove down the price. Belize’s producers chose not to sell for such cheap prices and decided to hold out until the market fixed itself. Production is expected to return to normal. In the secondary sector, there was a 16.5 % decline in petroleum extraction an even more steep decline in petroleum prices. This influenced a 6.6 % decline in the manufacturing and mining sector. Citrus concentrate production was down by 30 % largely due to the no orange production. Electricity generation fell by 18.8 % since rainfall levels was normal this year. The service sector is the best performing in the economy of Belize.
CLICK HERE for the February 2015 External Trade Bulletin
The year 2015 started off with a price ease, according to data just released by the Statistical Institute of Belize (SIB). Whereas 2014 ended with an inflation rate of 1%, February 2015 is recording a low inflation rate of -1.2%, the same as January 2015, according to data released this morning by Angelita Campbell, Statistician II.
The SIB uses a basket of 260 goods to determine price changes. Looking at the major categories, Campbell explained that prices in the miscellaneous goods and services grouping were up by 1.3%, due primarily to increases in health and transport insurance costs, while prices for housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels were down 0.7%, with butane prices falling from a high of $125.19 for the 100-pound cylinder last year to an average of $93.14 this year. She said that there was also a decrease in electricity prices by about 2-3 cents per kilowatt hour.
Prices in the transport category were down substantially by 7.4%, due to a decrease in the fuel index of 21.4%, with fuel prices down by over 3 bucks per gallon this February as compared to last February.
Food prices were down about 1%, with meat prices up by 1.8% but eggs down by 18.3% this February, (down from $3.62 to $3.13), vegetable prices down by 11.6 % (with cabbage prices down by about a third), and the price of fruits down by 4.2% (with pineapple prices down 12.8% and watermelon 33.1%).
Dangriga was the only municipality to record higher inflation – an increase in the price index of 0.5% – due to an increase in prices in the clothing and footwear and restaurants and hotels categories.
Belize registered the second lowest inflation rate in the Central American region, topped by El Salvador, which recorded a rate of -1.1%.
Whereas inflation was down, Belize’s imports are up by 12.6%, totaling $314.5 million for January and February 2015 – an increase of $35.2 million over the same period last year, according to Tiffany Vasquez, Statistician II. On the export side, all Belize’s major agricultural exports – sugar, bananas, citrus and marine products – had increased by an overall figure of roughly $6 million, but a massive $20.7 million drop in crude oil exports eroded those gains, resulting in an overall decline in exports of $12.3 million.
Belize’s trade gap – the difference in value between the merchandise Belize imported versus what it exported – continues on its upward trend, registering an expansion of nearly 40%. For the first two months of 2015, Belize had imported $172.9 million worth of merchandise but exported only $50.1 million worth, whereas last year, it had imported $141.2 million worth but exported $53.3 million worth of merchandise.
Jefte Ochaeta, Statistician I, reported today that the preliminary GDP estimate for 2014, gleaned from the quarterly reports of GDP during the year, is 3.6%. Detailing Belize’s economic performance for the 4th quarter in the year, Ochaeta said that GDP had grown by 1.6% relative to the same period in 2013, since the GDP is estimated to have grown to about $2.7 billion at constant prices, an increase of almost $100 million.
He explained that economic growth in 2014 was mainly due to increases in primary activities: agriculture, tourism and retail trade. Although climate changes led to a halt in orange production during that period, grapefruit production was up by 50%. Sugar, which began with strong performance during the first half of the year, performed well overall in 2014 when compared to 2013, and Ochaeta said that the same positive trend in sugar is expected to continue in 2015.
The final GDP figure should be available around August of this year, after the SIB gets all the input it needs from third parties to determine the revised figure, Ochaeta told us.