Belize By Numbers: GDP Grew, Exports Shrank

Last year in the first quarter Belize’s economy shrunk by 1.2% – what the economists call “negative growth.” This year’s first quarter shows a strong difference: the economy has grown by a surprising 7%. Today, we found out a why at a press conference held by the Statistical Institute of Belize.

Ms. Angelita Campbell, Statistician II

"Production of total goods and services for the first quarter stands 733.8 million dollars. Which is 48 million higher than that of last year same period. In other words, the production is 7% higher than that of 2014. The production for the primary industry stands at 18% higher than that of last year. Within the primary industry, the agriculture and forestry sector went up by 19.6% and that be seen in an increase of banana of 22.6%. Orange also went up by 129% and that is a result of a change in the harvest season. For the first quarter this year, marine products actually went up by 4.5 million pounds, which is the highest we've seen over the years between 2010 and 2015. We also have construction go down by 10.8%. That is explained because of some ongoing projects being completed. We see hotel and restaurants increasing by 6%. That is explained by an increase in cruise passengers visitors of 10.5% and that can be explained by an additional 33,000 roughly persons visiting more, in comparison to last year. We also see overnight, slight decrease not much of roughly 300 persons.”

And so while citrus and cruise tourism drove a strong first quarter – the news isn’t as good for the balance of trade. Belize’s trade imbalance keeps growing; that means we import WAAAY more than we export - and as a country we are importing more than ever before. Statistician Tiffany Vasquez outlined that picture.

Ms. Tiffany Vasquez, Statistician II

"In January to April this year, Belize imported goods totalling 647.2 million dollars. This represents an increase of 45.1 million dollars or 7.5% from January to April of last year. Imports of machinery and transport equipment grew by 5 million dollars due to increase purchases of bottling equipment and vehicles. Imports of manufactured goods went up 12.1 million dollars and importation of construction supplies continues to grow. We have seen month after month construction supplies continuing going up and 15 million dollars in transport equipment and we have seen bottling equipment as well. We have seen a lot of importation of bottling equipment for filling, labelling and sealing bottles. We have an growth in industry there. This is an illustration showing the trade gap - if you look at the hashed region you can see that the gap is widening and imports trending up and exports trending down.”

And one of the main drivers of that downward trend in exports is Belize’s oil industry. There’s less oil coming out of the ground at Spanish Lookout – and oil is going cheap on the international market right now. According to the SIB – it’s a very steep and steady decline:…

Ms. Tiffany Vasquez

"Oil is down a 28.3 million dollar drop or a 70% fall in earning from crude petroleum. Such a decline was a result of a 40% reduction in the number of barrels exported coupled with the drop in the world market price of petroleum.”

And the falling price of oil has a lot to do with the consistently low inflation numbers recorded in Belize – which continues to have the lowest inflation rate in Central America. Marilyn Pinelo-Lee outlined the numbers for April:

Mrs. Marilyn Pinelo-Lee - Economic Statistics Manager

"The inflation rate for the month of April stands at -1%. On average, prices are 1% lower than they were in last April. For the first 4 months of this year, inflation rate was recorded at -1%. Fuel prices increased form April 2014 to April 2015. Premium decreased from $11.39 to $8.63 per gallon. Regular declines from $11.13 to $8.78 per gallon. While the highest decrease shows in diesel, down from $10.26 to $7.16 per gallon. If we look at inflation rate per municipalities, we will notice that the inflation rates decreased except in Punta Gorda and Dangriga. Looking at the region and inflation rates, we have Panama with 0%. The highest being Nicaragua with 5.7% in the Central American region. Our neighbours Mexico -3.1% and in the CARICOM region, we have Jamaica with 4.4%”

Mexico’s inflation rate at -3% was lower than Belize’s….

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Figures Released on Belize’s Economic Performance for 1st Quarter 2015

The Statistical Institute of Belize released its latest numbers as it regards to Gross Domestic Product, the External Trade statistics and Consumer Price Index/Inflation Rate statistics for the first Quarter 2015. Press conference was held at the Central bank and Love News reporter Hipolito Novelo was in attendance and has the following report.

HIPOLITO NOVELO REPORTING

“According to the Statistical Institute of Belize, in the first three months of 2015, Belize experienced a 7% growth in Gross Domestic Product. Up until April, the total production was valued at $733.8 million. It is the highest number recorded between the years 2010 and 2015 during the same period. There are several factors that played a role in this increased which are agriculture, manufacturing and tourism as explained bay Statistician Angelita Campbell.”

ANGELICA CAMPBELL

“Production of total goods and services for the first quarter stands at seventy three point eight million dollars which is forty eight million dollars higher than that of last year, same period. In other words, the production is seven percent higher than that of 2014.


“Production of total goods and services for the first quarter stands at seventy three point eight million dollars which is forty eight million dollars higher than that of last year, same period. In other words, the production is seven percent higher than that of 2014. Statistics 4The seventy three point eight million dollars being the highest recorded over the period between 2010 to 2015. Note, this quarter has recorded the highest in terms of monetary value over the years for the first quarter of the GDP within the primary industry, the agricultural and forestry sector went up by 19.6 percent and that can be seen in an increase in banana by 2.6 percent. Orange also went up by 129 percent and that is as a result of the change in the harvest season. We have sugar cane however decreasing by 2.9 percent and that is explained by a late start in the harvest season of sugar cane. Fishing also went up by 16.5 percent and that is the result of the expansion of the fish farm production. We also see shrimp export going up by five million dollar more.

HIPOLITO NOVELO REPORTING

“Marine product for this quarter stands at 4.5 million pounds, the highest so far. Banana increased by from 22.8 metric tons to 27.9 metric tons. Citrus increased by a high number. Sugarcane decreased by 12.4 metric tons but there was an increase of sugar production by 7.7%- resulting from extraction efficiency. Petroleum extraction has been decreasing over the years. There was also a decrease of electricity generation in the first quarter. In April 2015, Belize imported goods valued at $157.6 million representing a slight decrease of 1.4 percent as explained by Tiffany Vasquez, Statistician II.”


TIFFANY VASQUEZ

“Major contributors to change in imports included imports to the commercial free zones which grew by twenty four point six million dollars due mostly to increased importation of cigarettes and clothing. Imports of machinery and transport equipment grew by five million dollars due to increased purchases of bottling equipment and vehicles, imports of manufactured goods went up by 12.1 million dollars as importation of construction supplies continues to grow. Spending on fuels and lubricants declined by 21.4 million dollars while the volume of all main fuels which included diesel, kerosene, regular, premium and butane all increased from January to April of this year. Imports to the Commercial Free Zones and export processing zone stood at 22.4 percent of Belize’s imports with the machinery and transport equipment and manufactured foods holding an almost similar share at 20.9 percent and 19.8 percent respectively. 12.3 percent of all imports were fuels and lubricants while food constituted the smallest share an 10.5 percent.”

HIPOLITO NOVELO REPORTING


“Most of Belize’s imports came from the United States of America with $203.5M. As for Belize’s exports, for the first quarter, was $56.3 M word of good, a decrease of 5.2 percent when compared to 2014 during the same period. This was attributed to the number of barrels of crude petroleum exported compounded by the world price of the good. However, all major exports increased. According to the SIB, during the month of April 2015, the prices of goods and services were on an average of 1 percent lower than April 2014 as explained by Marilyn Pinelo-Lee the Economic Statistics Manager.”

MARILYN PINELO-LEE

“We have food and non-alcoholic beverages down by point three percent housing, water, gas, electricity and other fuels down by point six percent, transport down by 6.4 percent and all other goods and services up by point five percent. The housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels category are comprised of electricity tariffs and butane prices. Electricity tariffs were decreased in January of this year and are more than twenty percent lower than they were in April of 2014. On average a hundred pounds cylinder of butane is now ninety three dollars compared to 126 dollars twelve months ago. Looking at the transport category which is down by 6.4 percent we attribute this decrease mainly to decreased fuel prices. The food and alcoholic beverages housing water, electricity, gas and other fuels along with the transport category together comprise of the 70 percent of the CPI while the all other goods and services category account for approximately thirty percent.”

The biggest drop was in Belize city which had an inflation rate of negative 1.5 percent. Reporting for Love News, I am Hipolito Novelo.


S.I.B. Releases Quarterly Stats for G.D.P.

The Statistical Institute of Belize released the latest figures for the GDP, external trade and consumer price index. The first quarter records a growth of seven percent that is due largely to agriculture, manufacturing and some cruise tourism. The SIB says that while there was a decrease in sugar delivery, there was an increase in sugar production resulting from extraction efficiency and quality cane delivered. And you may have noticed a slight dip in prices for goods in April, for most districts that is, except Dangriga and Punta Gorda. Andrea Polanco joined the SIB today to get the latest stats.

Andrea Polanco, Reporting

According to the Statistical Institute of Belize, the GDP for the first quarter of 2015 grew by seven percent compared to the first quarter of 2014. So, the total goods and services produced was valued around seven hundred and thirty three million dollars, outperforming the past five year.

Angelita Campbell

Angelita Campbell, Statistician

“We see the seven hundred and thirty three million dollar being the highest recorded over the period of 2010 to 2015. Note, this quarter has recorded the highest in terms of monetary value over the years for the first quarter of the GDP. Within the primary industry, the agricultural and forestry sector went up by nineteen point six percent and that can be seen in an increase in banana of twenty two point six percent; orange also went up by one hundred and twenty nine percent and that is as a result of change in the harvest season. We have sugar cane, however, decreasing by two point seven percent and that is explained by a change, by the late start, sorry, for the season of sugar cane. The secondary industry went down by zero point one percent. Within in this industry, we have fluctuations. We see manufacturing and mining going up by eighteen percent, within that sector we see citrus concentrate going up by one hundred and twenty one percent and that follow suit by an increase in orange production. We have petroleum continuing a decline trend and that decreased by fifteen point three percent. As you can see there has been a decline in petroleum extraction since 2010 from three hundred and eighty five point two thousands of barrels to a hundred and forty three point nine thousands of barrels. Note, for the first quarter of this year that is the lowest we’ve seen for petroleum extraction since 2007 for the first quarter.”

The SIB says that imports increased for the first quarter, but that there were notable increases in exports despite a drop in crude petroleum.

Tiffany Vasquez

Tiffany Vasquez, Statistician II, Economic Statistics, SIB

“In the period of January to April of this year, Belize exported goods totaling one hundred and ninety-seven point two million dollars. This represents a decrease of ten point seven million dollars or five point two percent from January to April of last year. A decease mainly due to a twenty-eight point three million dollar drop or a seventy percent fall in earnings from crude petroleum. Such a decline was the result of a forty percent reduction in the number of barrels exported coupled with a drop in the world market price of petroleum. However, all major exports increased. Citrus exports driven mostly by orange concentrate had the largest increase of twelve point one million dollars. Banana grew by five point seven million dollars,; sugar went up by three point nine million dollars and the marine was three million dollars.”

For the month of April, consumer prices went down by one percent.

Marilyn Pinelo-Lee

Marilyn Pinelo-Lee, Manager, Economic Statistics Unit

“We have food and non alcoholic beverages down by point three percent; housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels down by point six percent. Transport down by six point four percent and all other goods and services up by point five percent. The housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels category is comprised of electricity tariffs and butane prices. Electricity tariffs were decreased in January of this year and are more than twenty percent lower than they were in April of 2014. On average, a hundred pounds cylinder is now ninety-three dollars compared to one hundred and twenty-six dollars twelve months ago.”

Reporting for News Five, I am Andrea Polanco. 

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