Exports recovering as prices continue to fall

The Statistical Institute of Belize reports good news in the area of trade and inflation for September 2015. Imports slipped slightly for the month of September to $162 million, as no premium fuel was imported in this month and prices for other fuels were lower. Fewer clothing and cigarette purchases led to a $5 million decrease in imports to the Commercial Free Zones. Marked increases in the categories of ‘Machinery and ransport Equipment’, ‘Other Manufactures’ and ‘Chemical Products’ offset these declines. Notably, increased purchases of farm equipment, laboratory equipment and fertilizers were responsible for the growth within these categories.

The trade imbalance has widened, with $1.5 billion in goods imported to just $439 million exported over the first nine months of 2015. Sugar, citrus and banana fueled the rise in domestic exports to $36 million for September, though the sugar sales are due to the late start for that season. $8 million in bulk sugar was shipped in August and September. Among the major exports, sales of marine products saw the only decline for the month. At $6 million in September 2015, marine exports were only a half of what was recorded in September 2014, owing largely to reduced farm shrimp sales.

The decline in exports is due to diminished sales for three of Belize’s major exports, crude petroleum, marine products and citrus concentrate, led to the downturn over the nine month period. However, banana and sugar grew steadily from January to September, with banana sales rising from $72 million in 2014 to $77 million in 2015 and sugar from $109 million to $113 million.

Inflation continues to be negative, with consumer prices 0.7 percent lower in September 2015 than in the month of September 2014. For the first nine months of this year, an inflation rate of negative 0.9 percent was recorded. Lower fuel prices led the decline while food and non-alcoholic beverages declined by a minuscule 0.2 percent. The Institute says that Significant increases continued to be observed in the prices of beef, pork and eggs. These were offset by lower prices in red kidney beans, cooking oil, shortening and some fresh vegetables. “Housing, Water, Electricity, Gas and Other Fuels” saw no change overall in comparison to September 2014.

Although home rental prices increased by 0.8 percent on average, they were offset by a continued decline in the price of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG). The average price of a 100 pound cylinder of this product fell steeply, from $115 in September 2014 to $98 in September 2015. While most municipalities recorded a decrease in consumer prices during the month of September 2015, Dangriga and Punta Gorda had inflation rates of 1.8 and 1.4 percent, respectively.

Home rental prices were the highest in these areas, increasing by 2.7 percent in both municipalities and overshadowing the effects of lower fuel prices to result in an overall increase in consumer prices. On the other hand, Belmopan recorded the lowest inflation rate of negative 1.9 percent, while Corozal Town saw no change in prices, on average.

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Deflation of -0.7%, as prices fall everywhere except the south

Today, a gallon of premium gasoline is down to $8.58 in Belize City, a dollar lower than it was the same time last month, giving consumers a substantial ease, as anticipated during this pre-election season. All-in-all though, consumer prices have been on a downward trend nationally, with the first nine months of this year recording an inflation rate of negative 0.9 percent and September recording deflation in all municipalities with the exception of the southernmost municipalities of Dangriga and Punta Gorda, according to the latest report from the Statistical Institute of Belize (SIB).

“The price of all three types of fuel fell considerably in comparison to September 2014, with prices of premium and regular gasoline down by about 16 percent and 24 percent, respectively. Diesel recorded the highest decline of 32 percent, compared to last September. The decline in fuel prices was the major factor contributing to a 7 percent decline in the ‘Transport’ index,” the SIB said.


The SIB said that the overall inflation rate for the month of September was -0.7% when compared with September of last year, with Belmopan experiencing the greatest ease with a -1.9% inflation rate, but Dangriga experiencing the greatest overall increase with a 1.8% inflation rate.

“While most municipalities recorded a decrease in consumer prices during the month of September 2015, Dangriga and Punta Gorda had inflation rates of 1.8 and 1.4 percent, respectively,” the SIB revealed.


“Home rental prices were the highest in these areas, increasing by 2.7 percent in both municipalities and overshadowing the effects of lower fuel prices to result in an overall increase in consumer prices.

“On the other hand, Belmopan recorded the lowest inflation rate of negative 1.9 percent, while Corozal Town saw no change in prices, on average,” the SIB reported.

It added that not much change was reported in the category of “Food and Non-Alcoholic Beverages,” which showed a marginal drop of 0.2 percent.

Significant increases in the price of beef, pork and eggs were offset by lower prices for red kidney beans, cooking oil, shortening and some fresh vegetables, the SIB said.


Likewise, there was negligible change in prices for the “Housing, Water, Electricity, Gas and Other Fuels” category.

“Although home rental prices increased by 0.8 percent on average, they were offset by a continued decline in the price of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG). The average price of a 100 pound cylinder of this product fell steeply, from $115 in September 2014 to $98 in September 2015,” the SIB said.

Amandala