Consumer Price Index

PRICES UP 0.7% IN SEPTEMBER

The latest figures on consumer prices released by the Statistical Institute of Belize showed that, on average, the prices of goods and services purchased by Belizean households were 0.7 percent higher in September 2016 than they were in September 2015. The All- Items consumer price index stood at 103.7, an increase from 103.0 recorded for last September. The first nine months of 2016 saw an overall inflation rate of 0.5 percent.

Since the start of the year, prices for the sub-category of ‘Fuel’ have been trending gradually upward. For most of this year, lower international airfares have tended to offset this gradual rise in fuel prices, resulting in an overall decrease in the ‘Transport’ index. For the month of September 2016, however, ‘Transport’ recorded an overall increase of 1.3 percent, as rising prices for fuel overshadowed the effects of a 26 percent drop in international airfares for the first time this year. The average price for Regular gasoline rose by more than 8 percent from $8.63 in September 2015 to $9.35 in September 2016, while that of Diesel jumped by 17 percent from $6.98 to $8.18.

On average, the prices for the category of ‘Food and ‘Non-alcoholic beverages’ were largely unchanged during the month of September, although there were some change recorded in the prices of some items at the individual product level. The average price per pound of sugar was up 31 percent, due to a price increase that took effect at the start of the year, while smaller increases were noted in the prices of rice and various fruits. These were offset by eggs, pork, and seafood, which all experienced lower prices during the month.

The ‘Housing, Water, Electricity, Gas and Other Fuels’ category recorded a slight overall increase of 0.3 percent for the month of September of 2016. While home rental prices were 0.6 percent higher than they were during the same month of last year, electricity tariffs as well as the price of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) were both lower than they were in September of last year.

Although most municipalities recorded increases in consumer prices during the month of September 2016, Dangriga saw a 0.9 percent decline in prices while consumer prices were down 0.7 percent in Punta Gorda Town during the month. Dangriga was the only municipality to experience a decrease in ‘Transport’ prices, and both towns saw food prices fall by more than the national average. On the other hand, Corozal Town and Orange Walk Town, which had the highest increases in home rental prices, reported the highest inflation rates for the month.

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External Trade Bulletin

IMPORTS DOWN 1.1%, EXPORTS DOWN 40.6%

IMPORTS

September 2016: In September 2016, Belize imported goods valuing $160.3 million, representing a marginal 1.1 percent or $1.9 million decrease from imports during the same month in 2015.

The ‘Export Processing Zones’ saw the sharpest decline in imports during the month, falling from $11 million in September 2015 to $3.5 million in September 2016. Reduced purchases were observed across various items within that category, with gaming machines, electrical panels and paper machinery among the items recording the most notable declines. A signifi cant decrease in the importation of mechanical harvesters led to an almost $4 million drop in the ‘Machinery and Transport Equipment’ category, while lowered purchases of plastic tubes, vaccines and fertilizers resulted in a $1 million decline in imports of ‘Chemical Products’.

Imports of goods to the ‘Commercial Free Zones’, on the other hand, grew by one third or $7 million during the month, as purchases of cigarettes, school bags, clothing and footwear all rose in comparison to September 2015. Although the quantity of diesel imported was only a half of what was imported during the same month of last year, the ‘Mineral Fuels Lubricants’ category rose by $1.6 million. This was largely due to the fact that there were no purchases of premium gasoline in September 2015, while there were shipments received in September of this year. Increased purchases of pre-fabricated steel buildings drove imports of ‘Other Manufactures’ up by $1.5 million, while a sizeable growth in cigarette imports resulted in a $1.4 million spike in the category of ‘Beverages and Tobacco’.


FIRST NINE MONthS OF THE YEAR: Merchandise imports for the period January to September 2016 totaled $1.5 billion, representing a 2.3 percent or $33.9 million decrease from the same nine-month period in 2015.

Goods destined for the ‘Export Processing Zones’ recorded the greatest decline over the period, with an almost $50 million drop in imports, from $87 million in the fi rst nine months of 2015 to $37 million in 2016. A considerable portion of this decline was the direct result of diminished shrimp feed imports. ‘Machinery and Transport Equipment’, which accounted for over $380 million of total imports for the period, saw the most signifi cant increase, growing by 17 percent or $54.5 million compared to the same nine months of last year.

EXPORTS

SEPTEMBER 2016: Belize’s total domestic exports for the month of September 2016 amounted to $21.4 million, down 40.6 percent or $14.7 million when compared to the almost $36 million in exports recorded for the month of September 2015.

The sharp fall in earnings was chiefl y the result of declines in exports across most of the major commodities, with the exception of citrus concentrate, which saw a slight increase during the month. Sugar exports plunged from $8.4 million in September 2015 to less than half a million dollars in September 2016, due primarily to changes in the scheduling of sugar shipments. Banana sales decreased during the month, from $10 million in 2015 to $6 million in September of this year. Marine exports declined by $2 million, from $6 million to $4 million, as shrimp sales remained below what was recorded for the same month last year.

FIRST NINE MONTHS OF THE YEAR: Merchandise exports for the period January to September 2016 totaled $342.6 million, down 22.2 percent or $97.7 million from the same nine months of last year.

For the year to date, citrus was the only major export to have emerged with some increase in earnings, rising by $3 million from $74 million in 2015 to $77 million in 2016 due to favorable world market prices. Marine exports, on the other hand, suffered the sharpest drop of $46 million, from $72 million during the fi rst nine months in 2015 to $26 million in 2016, owing to decreased shrimp sales. Banana exports fell by $21 million, or more than one fourth, over the period, from $78 million to $56 million. Sugar and crude petroleum each recorded decreases of about $11 million during the fi rst nine months of the year.


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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)