External Trade Bulletin

IMPORTS AND EXPORTS BOTH DOWN IN DECEMBER 2015

IMPORTS

DECEMBER: Belize’s total imports for the month of December 2015 were valued at $179.7 million. This was a decrease of 2.5 percent or $4.6 million over imports for December 2014, which totaled $184.2 million.

During the month, imports destined for the ‘Commercial Free Zones’ and ‘Export Processing Zones’ both declined by $6 million, as fewer cigarettes, clothing, shrimp feed and steel structures were purchased, when compared to the same month in 2014. Additionally, lower world fuel prices resulted in $3 million less being spent on ‘Mineral Fuel and Lubricants’, although the quantities of premium, regular and diesel fuels imported were higher than in December 2014.

Imports of ‘Machinery and Transport Equipment’ rose by $2.6 million, owing to increased purchases of telecommunication parts during the month. A spike in turkey imports during the Christmas season led to a $2 million growth in the category of ‘Food and Live Animals’, while the categories of ‘Other Manufactures’ and ‘Chemical Products’ also rose by $2 million each, due to increased importation of plastic tubes, pipes and laboratory plastics.

TWELVE MONTHS OF 2015: Merchandise imports for the year 2015 totaled $2.1 billion, an increase of 2.7 percent or $53.7 million over the total value of goods imported during the twelve months of 2014.

‘Machinery and Transport Equipment’ was the category that saw the greatest growth during the year, rising by almost $79 million as a result of increased purchases of vehicle parts and transportation equipment. ‘Manufactured Goods’ rose by $26 million, due to greater purchases of tires and steel within the year. ‘Chemical Products grew by $15.6 million, the result of a steady upward trend in the importation of fertilizer, while laboratory equipment purchases led to a $15 million rise in imports of ‘Other Manufactures’. On the other hand, $72 million less was spent on ‘Mineral Fuel and Lubricants’ as world fuel prices remained low throughout the year.

EXPORTS

DECEMBER: Total domestic exports for December 2015 amounted to $20 million, down 38.3 percent or $12.4 million when compared to exports for the month of December 2014.

Three of the country’s major domestic exports, marine products, crude petroleum and bananas, all declined during the month of December 2015. Marine sales fell sharply from $11 million to $4 million, primarily due to an $8 million dollar drop in shrimp export earnings. There was no crude petroleum exported in December 2015, compared to almost $7 million in exports of that product in the same month of 2014. A decline of almost $3 million in banana sales further contributed to the decline in total exports during the month.

The only major export to see growth during December was citrus concentrate. Sales of this product grew by $4 million, as orange concentrate exports surged from $1 million to $5 million during the month.

TWELVE MONTHS OF 2015: Domestic exports for the year 2015 totaled $535.3 million, down 12.9 percent or $79.1 million from the $614.4 million recorded for 2014.

Sugar was the year’s strongest performer among the major exports, rising by almost one fifth and recording $24 million more in earnings than it did for the year 2014. Despite challenges in the earlier months of the year, orange concentrate sales experienced a boost in the latter months of 2015, recording total export earnings of $89 million, a mere $1 million shy of earnings for the year 2014. Marine and crude petroleum exports both declined notably over the period. The former saw a drop in earnings from $113 million to $88 million, due to a one third reduction in shrimp sales on the export market, while plunging world prices resulted in a 64 percent drop in the country’s crude petroleum earnings from $102 million in 2014 to $36 million for the year 2015.

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Consumer Price Index

FUEL, ELECTRICITY AND LPG PUSH CONSUMER PRICES DOWN 0.7% IN DECEMBER 2015.

The Statistical Institute of Belize’s latest statistics on consumer prices showed that for December 2015, the All-Items Consumer Price Index stood at 102.7, a decline of 0.7 percent from 103.5 recorded in December 2014. For the year 2015, the average national inflation rate was negative 0.9 percent.

During the month of December 2015, the average price per gallon of all three types of fuels remained lower than they were in December 2014. The price of premium gasoline was down by about 10 percent, while that of regular gasoline was 16 percent lower. Diesel fuel was more than 24 percent lower than it was in the same month of 2014. These decreases, combined with a drop of more than one third in international airfares, resulted in an overall decline of more than 8 percent in the “Transport” category when compared to December 2014.

Food prices, on average, showed no change when compared to December 2014. Although price increases were seen across all types of meats, these were offset by lower prices for Red Kidney Beans and various fresh vegetables, including carrots and onions.

Within the category of “Housing, Water, Electricity, Gas and Other Fuels” an increase of 2.2 percent in home rental prices overshadowed a 20 percent decline in electricity rates and a steep drop in the price of Liquefied Petroleum Gas. In the case of the latter, the average price for a 100 pound cylinder fell from $109.26 in December 2014 to $83.88 in December 2015, a decline of 23 percent.

While most municipalities recorded decreases in consumer prices during the month, Dangriga and Punta Gorda had inflation rates of 2.7 percent and 1.0 percent, respectively. Home rental prices and food prices were among the highest in these areas. On the other hand, the largest decline was recorded in Belmopan, which had an inflation rate of negative 2.9 percent, largely due to lower prices recorded for food and home rental costs.


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You may download the entire series for both External Trade and CPI in Excel format from the Statistical Institute of Belize website: (http://www.sib.org.bz/statistics)


Consumer prices down in 2015, but meat prices spike

A reduction in world crude prices and fuel costs resulted in an 8.7% decline in consumer fuel prices in Belize during 2015—offsetting price increases experienced on the home front for basic food commodities, such as meats, particularly ground beef, which rose by almost 20% from $5.00 a pound to $5.99 a pound.

Overall, though, consumer prices fell by about a penny on the dollar during 2015, with prices falling in December by 0.7% over last December, according to information released today by the Statistical Institute of Belize (SIB).

For the year 2015, the average national inflation rate was negative 0.9 percent. During that month, fuel prices were comparatively lower than the same time last year.

According to the SIB, “The price of premium gasoline was down by about 10 percent, while that of regular gasoline was 16 percent lower. Diesel fuel was more than 24 percent lower than it was in the same month, of 2014.”

The SIB added that these decreases, combined with a drop of more than one third in international airfares, resulted in an overall decline of more than 8 percent in the ‘transport’ category when compared to December 2014.

While there was some ease on that front, food prices remained virtually unchanged, notwithstanding increases in the price of all types of meats, eggs, milk and other basic commodities.

These increases were offset, though, by decreases in the price of red kidney beans, onions and LPG cooking fuel.

The SIB noted that in December 2014 the 100-pound cylinder of LPG was $109.26, but it fell by 23% in December 2015, to $83.88.

Electricity rates fell a whopping 20% compared to December 2014, contributing substantially to the overall decline in consumer prices.

However, prices increased in the southern municipalities, by 2.7% in Dangriga and 1% in Punta Gorda.

“Home rental prices and food prices were among the highest in these areas,” the SIB reported.

Consumer prices plunged the most in Belmopan, which recorded an inflation rate of negative 2.9%, largely due to lower prices recorded for food and home rental costs.

Belize’s exports lowest since 2009, while imports hit new record

External trade statistics just in, indicate that Belize’s export sector experienced a depressed year in 2015, with total exports down to $535.33 million—the lowest since 2009. Meanwhile, the country’s import bill hit a new record, at roughly $2.1 billion for 2015.

Belize experienced its fourth consecutive decline in annual export earnings since 2012, which correlates directly with a fall-off in earnings from crude oil sales, which hit its peak in 2010.

The Statistical Institute of Belize (SIB), in its latest trade bulletin, informed that “plunging world prices resulted in a 64 percent drop in the country’s crude petroleum earnings from $102 million in 2014 to $36 million for the year 2015.”

In fact, there was no crude petroleum exported in December 2015, compared to almost $7 million in exports of that product in the same month of 2014.

On the import side, the impact of lower world market prices was positive, since consumers saved $72 million on fuel and related products. In December 2015 alone, the fuel bill was $3 million less than the same time last year.

Three of the country’s major domestic exports, marine products, crude petroleum and bananas, all declined during the month of December 2015. Marine fisheries sales fell sharply from $11 million to $4 million, primarily due to an $8 million drop in shrimp export earnings, while banana sales dropped by almost $3 million in December.

Domestic exports for the year 2015 totaled $535.3 million, down 12.9 percent or $79.1 million from the $614.4 million recorded for 2014. However, two of Belize’s major export commodities did well: Sugar was the year’s strongest performer among the major exports, rising by almost one fifth and recording earnings of $24 million more in earnings than it did for the year 2014 for total earnings of $134 million in 2015, the SIB noted. It added that, “Despite challenges in the earlier months of the year, orange concentrate sales experienced a boost in the latter months of 2015, recording total export earnings of $89 million, a mere $1 million shy of earnings for the year 2014.”

December trade was impacted by higher demand in certain categories. This was reflected by a spike in turkey imports during the Christmas season, which led to a $2 million growth in the category of ‘Food and Live Animals’.

Despite a drastic decline in the cost of fuel, though, Belize’s import bill still increased—by 2.7% or $53.7 million over 2014.

Of note is that importation of vehicle parts and transportation equipment was substantially higher in 2015, costing consumers $79 million more than the previous year, eroding the savings made on fuel.

Also, the value of imports in the ‘Manufactured Goods’ category rose by $26 million, due to greater purchases of tires and steel within the year, the SIB said.

Amandala’s review of the data since 2005 revealed that Belize’s import bill, at roughly $2 billion, is more than four times its export earnings, which stood at roughly half-a-billion dollars at the close of the year. Belize’s import bill hit a new record in 2015—up by almost 70% from over a decade ago. Meanwhile, export earnings are only 26% higher.

Amandala