External Trade Bulletin

HIGHER FOOD PRICES LEAD TO INFLATION OF 0.1% IN APRIL

IMPORTS

April: Belize’s total imports for the month of April 2016 were valued at $168.9 million. This was an increase of 7.2 percent or $11.3 million over last April’s imports, which totaled $157.6 million.

Of the various categories, ‘Machinery and Transport Equipment’ was the primary reason for the rise in total imports during the month, growing considerably by $25 million dollars, from $31 million in April 2015 to $56 million in April 2016. This increase was mainly attributable to purchases of telecommunications equipment valued at $17 million dollars made during the month. The ‘Other Manufactures’ category had the only other observable increase, growing by a lesser $2 million due mostly to purchases of construction material along with plastic boxes and crates.

Notable decreases were recorded for imports of ‘Mineral Fuels and Lubricants’, ‘Chemical Products’ and goods destined for Belize’s the ‘Commercial Free Zones’ and ‘Export Processing Zones’.

Belize spent almost $5 million less on “Minerals Fuels and Lubricants”, despite the importation of a shipment of premium fuel in April 2016, as lower fuel prices continue to impact this category. Further, reduced purchases of fertilizer and laboratory equipment led to a $1 million drop in the importation of ‘Chemical Products’. Imports meant for the ‘Commercial Free Zones’ and ‘Export Processing Zones’ fell by $6.5 million and $3 million dollars, respectively. While the decline in the former was the result of decreased purchases of cigarettes and clothing, the latter was consistent with the steady fall in shrimp feed imports over recent months.

FIRST FOUR MONTHS OF THE YEAR: Merchandise imports for the period January to April 2016 totaled $631.6 million, representing a 2.4 percent or $15.6 million decrease from the same four month period last year.

‘Mineral Fuels Lubricants’, ‘Commercial Free Zones’ and ‘Export Processing Zones’ were the categories in greatest decline over the period, falling by a combined $60 million, only to be partly offset by $40 million growth in imports of ‘Machinery and Transport Equipment’.

EXPORTS

April: The total value of Belize’s domestic exports for the month of April 2016 was $37.6 million, down 34.3 percent or $19.6 million from the $57.2 million recorded in April 2015.

Sugar was the greatest contributor to that decrease, with earnings falling from $14.4 million to $2.4 million compared to April 2015. This drop was as a result of a change in the scheduling of large shipments of sugar, such that only bagged sugar was exported in April 2016. Banana, crude petroleum and marine exports also fell during the month, with earnings declining by a combined $5.6 million. On the other the hand, citrus was the only major export to see some growth in the month of April, increasing by $1.2 million, from $14 million in April 2015 to $15.2 million in April of this year, due almost entirely to improved orange concentrate sales.

FIRST FOUR MONTHS OF THE YEAR: Merchandise exports for the period January to April totaled $141.6 million, down 29.5 percent or $59.1 million from the $200.7 million recorded for the same period last year, and earnings from all major exports fell during the period. Marine exports, however, recorded the steepest drop in export earnings, falling by over $22 million in comparison to the first four months of 2015, as the shrimp industry continues to restock its ponds.

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Consumer Price Index

HIGHER FOOD PRICES LEAD TO INFLATION OF 0.1% IN APRIL

During the month of April 2016, the prices of goods and services purchased by Belizean households were a marginal 0.1 percent higher than in April 2015. According to latest statistics released by the Statistical Institute of Belize, the All Items Consumer Price Index was 102.9, up from 102.8 in April of last year. For the first four months of the year 2016, an inflation rate of 0.2 percent was recorded. “Food & Non-Alcoholic Beverages” was the major contributor to this increase, with an average price increase of 1.1 percent for the month. Within this category, “Food” items saw a 1.5 percent increase, driven by higher prices for beef, pork, eggs, fruits and vegetables. As in previous months, these increases were partially balanced out by Red Kidney beans, the average price for which was almost 11 percent lower than it was in April 2015.

The “Housing, Water, Electricity, Gas and Other Fuels” category recorded a very slight overall increase of 0.1 percent in comparison to April 2015. Home rental prices were up by 0.7 percent, but the effect of this was counteracted by the continued decline in the price of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG). The average price of a 100-pound cylinder of LPG, which stood at $93 in April 2015, dropped by $9 during the period to $84 in April 2016.

Lower fuel prices continued to be the major driving force in the “Transport” category, which recorded a decrease of 4.5 percent for April 2016. This was the smallest monthly decline recorded for this category since the start of the year and, although fuel prices remain lower than they were in 2015, they have been trending upward since the start of 2016. Premium gasoline was down by 3.9 percent compared to April 2015, while the price of diesel was up by 2.6 percent and regular gasoline saw a 1.1 percent fall in price. The “All Other Goods & Services” category rose by 1.5 percent, as a result of a 9 percent increase in the average prices of insurance premiums and a 2.6 percent increase in the “Health” Category.

At the municipal level, the highest inflation rate was once again seen in Corozal Town, where prices rose by 1.7 percent. This municipality has seen a continuous upward trend in consumer prices for the past four months, mainly due to it having the highest increase in home rental prices. Orange Walk Town followed, with an inflation rate of 1.5 percent, while Belmopan continued to record the lowest inflation rate, at negative 1.4 percent.

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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)