Here are the Statistical Institute of Belize's most recent statistics, published today June 29th 2016:

  • May 2016 External Trade
  • May 2016 Consumer Price Index
  • First Quarter 2016 Gross Domestic Product
  • April 2016 Labour Force Survey Findings

External Trade Bulletin

IMPORTS UP 8%, EXPORTS UP 17%

IMPORTS

April: May: In May 2016, Belize imported goods valuing $175.3 million, representing an 8.2 percent or $13.3 million increase over the same month in 2015. More than a quarter of all purchases from abroad fell within the category of ‘Machinery and Transport Equipment’, which totaled $49 million. ‘Manufactured Goods and Other Manufactures’, valued at $32 million, accounted for almost one fifth of total imports for the month.

For the second consecutive month in 2016, ‘Machinery and Transport Equipment’ saw the most substantial growth and was the main catalyst behind the rise in imports. This category grew by a sizeable 50 percent, from $32 million in May 2015 to $48 million in May 2016, with telecommunications equipment, bottling equipment and pleasure water vessels among the items that led to this increase. Imports of ‘Food and Live Animals’ rose by $5 million, due to greater purchases of wheat and corn seeds, while an increase in purchases of wood led to a $3 million rise in ‘Crude Materials’. ‘Other Manufactures’ saw an increase of $2 million, driven by higher imports of packaging materials, electric lamp and light fittings.

In contrast, the categories of ‘Mineral Fuels and Lubricants’, ‘Chemical Products’, ‘Manufactured Goods’ and items destined for the ‘Export Processing Zones’ together fell by a combined $16 million. The ‘Mineral Fuels and Lubricants’ category recorded the sharpest drop, as the country spent $7 million less on the importation of diesel, regular and premium fuels, due in large part to lower fuel prices on the world market. Decreased purchases of medical supplies, steel, and shrimp feed accounted for the fall in the other three categories.

FIRST FIVE MONTHS OF THE YEAR: Since the start of 2016, Belize has imported $806.9 million worth of goods, a marginal 0.3 percent or $2.3 million decrease from the corresponding five-month period 2015 period

The largest reductions in imports were seen in the ‘Mineral Fuels and Lubricants’, ‘Export Processing Zones’ and ‘Commercial Free Zones’ categories, which declined by a combined $71 million over the first five months of the year. However, a combined increase of $70 million recorded for ‘Machinery and Transport Equipment’ and ‘Food and Live Animals’ counterbalanced the impact of the decline in these categories and resulted in the slight overall decrease.

EXPORTS

May: Belize’s total domestic exports for the month of May 2016 amounted to $60.3 million, up 17.4 percent or $8.9 million when compared to the month of May 2015.

Sugar was the primary source of the month’s increase, with exports of this product rising by a substantial $21.3 million, from $5.1 million to $26.4 million. Banana and citrus exports also had small but positive showings, with both commodities recording slight increases in the month of May.

Marine exports, on the other hand, dropped by $3.5 million from $8.6 million in May 2015 to $5.2 million in May of 2016, due to diminished sales of farm shrimp. Crude petroleum, which saw earnings of $6.5 million in May of last year, recorded no exports for the month of May 2016.

FIRST FIVE MONTHS OF THE YEAR: Merchandise exports for the first five months of this year totaled $201.9 million, a 19.9 percent or $50.2 million drop from the same period last year. All major exports fell during the five month period, with the exception of sugar, which rose by a significant $13 million from $47 million to $60 million. Marine exports plummeted from $45 million to $19 million, while banana earnings dropped by $14 million and crude petroleum fell by $11 million compared to the same five months of 2015.

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Consumer Price Index

CONSUMER PRICES UP 1% AS FUEL AND FOOD PRICES RISE

Latest figures on consumer prices released by the Statistical Institute of Belize show that, on average, prices were 1 percent higher in the month of May 2016, when compared to last May. The All-Items Consumer Price index for this month stood at 103.7, up from 102.7. For the first five months of this year, an inflation rate of 0.4 percent was recorded.

The “Transport” category saw a 0.9 percent decrease on average, when compared to May of 2015. It should be noted, however, that while this category has consistently recorded deflation, or falling prices, for over a year, this decline has been slowed by rising fuel prices since the start of 2016. The “Fuel’ Index recorded an increase of 1.9 percent, as a result of a 0.4 percent increase in the price of regular gasoline and a 6.6 percent rise in that of diesel. These were offset by international airfares, which were down by 12.1 percent when compared to May 2015, and premium gasoline prices, which were 2.5 percent lower than they were one year ago.

Home rental prices rose by 2.5 percent during May 2016, resulting in an overall increase in the “Housing, Water, Electricity, Gas & Other Fuels” category of 1.6 percent. The price of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) continues to fall, and as of May 2016, was more than 24 percent lower than it was in May of last year. The average price of a 100-pound cylinder of LPG, which stood at $111 in May 2015, dropped sharply to $84 in May 2016. The price of electricity tariffs, down by 16 percent from last May, also contributed to the overall decline in this category.

Prices in the “Food and Non-Alcoholic Beverages” category increased only marginally, by 0.4 percent, as a result of a slight increase in the “Food” index during the month. Higher prices were recorded for beef, pork and fresh fruit, while Red Kidney bean prices remained lower than they were in May 2015.

Higher motor vehicle and health insurance premiums, doctor’s consultation fees, hotel rates and hairdressing prices all contributed to a 1.6 percent increase in “All Other categories of Goods and Services”.

All municipalities recorded an increase in consumer prices during the month of May 2016. Corozal Town and Punta Gorda had the highest inflation rates, both at 2 percent. Corozal Town was the only municipality to have seen an increase in the “Transport” category, as result of higher prices for motor vehicle parts, while Punta Gorda recorded one of the highest increases in home rental prices. San Ignacio/Santa Elena Town and Dangriga had the lowest rates of inflation for the month, at only 0.4 percent each.

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Gross Domestic Product (GDP) 1st Quarter 2016

ECONOMY SHRINKS 2% IN FIRST QUARTER: SLOWDOWN IN AGRICULTURE, MARINE AND MANUFACTURING

For the first three months of 2016, Belize’s economy saw a 2 percent decline in the overall level of production when compared to the same period in 2015. Latest figures released by the Statistical Institute of Belize show that in the first quarter of this year the total value of goods and services produced in Belize was $718 million, down $14.7 million from $733 produced in the first quarter of 2015.

Production in the primary sector dropped sharply during the first quarter, falling by 34.1 percent compared to the same period last year, following a slowdown in both the agriculture and fisheries industries. Marine exports plummeted from 4.5 million pounds to less than 1 million pounds, as the decline in shrimp production continued to have a major effect on the sector. Banana shipments dropped by 42 percent, from 28 thousand metric tons to 16 thousand metric tons, due to the closure of one of the major banana farms and the lingering effects of flooding in late 2015. Citrus production also declined during the period, down by 17 percent from 115 metric tons in the first quarter of 2015 to 95 metric tons during the first three months of 2016, as a result of the smaller crops and aging fruit trees.

The only significant growth observed within the primary sector was for sugarcane, which saw deliveries to the factory rising by 27 percent. Livestock production was also up during the quarter, with poultry production rising by 7 percent and that of swine increasing by 16 percent.

For the first quarter of 2016, secondary activities saw an overall increase of 4.2 percent. This was the result of continued strong performances in “Electricity and Water” and “Construction”. Rains during the early part of the period resulted in high water levels in the dams and a 54 percent jump in hydroelectricity generation. Water distribution rose by almost 7 percent in the first three months of the year, with coverage being expanded to communities in the Belize River Valley and other areas of the country. Construction increased by a healthy 12 percent compared to the first quarter of 2015, as infrastructure development projects continued across the country. Beverage production rose by 13 percent, mainly due to increases in the production of both soft drinks and beer.

Industries within the tertiary sector, which accounts for a half of the country’s total economy, experienced growth of 4 percent during the first quarter of 2016. Despite a decline of about 15 thousand in the number of cruise ship passengers visiting the country, overnight visitors rose by more than 17 thousand, resulting in a moderate growth of 5 percent in “Accommodation and Food Services”. “Wholesale and Retail Trade” recorded a 2 percent increase in activity, while “Government Services” rose by almost 12 percent during the quarter.

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Labour Force Survey April 2016

UNEMPLOYMENT DROPS TO 8% IN APRIL 2016, OVER 8,700 NEW JOBS ADDED

Preliminary results of the Statistical Institute of Belize’s most recent Labour Force Survey show that, in April 2016 there were a total of 146,918 employed persons in the country of Belize. This represented a considerable increase of 8,773 persons over April of 2015, when a total of 138,145 employed persons was recorded. The national unemployment rate stood at 8 percent, down 2 percentage points from April 2015, and was the first single digit unemployment rate recorded in almost a decade. The median monthly salary for employed persons was $1,192, almost unchanged from one year ago.

Both males and females saw gains in employment during the period, with men accounting for about 5,700 of all new jobs and women accounting for 3,000. The rate of joblessness among men declined by more than 2 percentage points to 4.3 percent, while that of women decreased by 1.5 percentage points to 13.6 percent. Females continue to be about three times as likely to be unemployed than males. Women also participate in the labour force to a lesser degree than do their male counterparts, with only a half of working aged women being a part of the labour force, compared to three quarters of working aged males.

All districts saw an increase in the number of employed persons, except for Orange Walk which experienced a net loss of about 190 jobs. The Cayo district recorded the largest gains in employment, with over 2,700 additional jobs, primarily in construction, wholesale and retail trade, and other services. The vast majority of new jobs were created in the country’s urban areas.

As shown in Figure 2, a general downward trend in the total number of unemployed persons has been observed over the past four years. Between April 2015 and the same month in 2016, this figure declined by more than 2,800, from 15,544 to 12,730. This indicates that sufficient new jobs were created over the period to absorb new entrants into the labour force as well as provide employment to a portion of the persons who were previously unemployed.

The highest rate of joblessness was found in the Stann Creek district, with an unemployment rate of 10.6 percent, followed by the Belize District with 9.6 percent. At 3.9 percent, the Toledo district had the lowest unemployment rate for the period.

Click here for the whole report!

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)



Spike in food and fuel prices push prices up for May 2016

After an overall drop in consumer prices in 2015, consumer prices continue on an upward trend in May 2016, which saw an overall increase in prices of roughly 1%—the highest since the year began.

Price increases in food were the most pronounced, followed by price increases in fuel. The first five months of this year saw an inflation rate of 0.4 percent.

Angelita Campbell, Statistician II at the Statistical Institute of Belize presented the latest information on Belize’s consumer price index, as of May 2016.

“For the fuel prices, we realized fuel prices have been the highest since the start of the year, so that’s something that stood out to us,” Campbell said.

Some meat prices are also notably higher. Campbell said that prices have been trending up since late last year, and that has been consistent since December 2015.

Additionally, the SIB observed an increase in healthcare costs, also since late last year.

Belize City, San Ignacio/Santa Elena, Dangriga and Belmopan all recorded inflation rates below the national average for May 2016. Whereas last year saw inflation hitting the southern municipality of Dangriga the hardest, with an overall rate of 2.7%, inflation for May 2016 was the highest in Punta Gorda, Corozal and Orange Walk. The northern districts had previously reported lower rates of inflation.

Campbell said that in the case of Corozal, the marked increase was due to higher prices for motor vehicles spare parts. She said that Corozal recorded the only increase in the transport index for the month of May 2016. Punta Gorda recorded one of the highest increases in home rental prices.

The SIB notes that, “The ‘fuel’ index recorded an increase of 1.9 percent, as a result of a 0.4 percent increase in the price of regular gasoline and a 6.6 percent rise in that of diesel. These were offset by international airfares, which were down by 12.1 percent when compared to May 2015, and premium gasoline prices, which were 2.5 percent lower than they were one year ago.”

Whereas prices in the “food and non-alcoholic beverages” category increased only marginally, by 0.4 percent, higher prices were recorded for beef, chicken breast, flour, cabbage and fresh fruit, while the prices of sweet peppers, yellow onions, and red kidney beans remained lower than they were in May 2015.

“Higher motor vehicle and health insurance premiums, doctor’s consultation fees, hotel rates and hairdressing prices all contributed to a 1.6 percent increase in ‘all other categories of goods and services,’” the SIB said.

The price of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) continues to fall, the SIB said, pointing to a 24% drop since last year, when a 100-pound cylinder was priced at $111 in Belize City.

Amandala