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#519412 - 11/30/16 07:27 PM October 2016 Trade, GDP & CPI, Labour, Business Survey
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Here are the Statistical Institute of Belize's most recent statistics:

  • October External Trade Statistics
  • October Consumer Price Index Statistics
  • Third Quarter Gross Domestic Product
  • Business Establishment Survey Results
  • September 2016, Labor Force Survey Results

Consumer Price Index

CONSUMER PRICES UP 0.7% IN OCTOBER 2016

During the month of October 2016, the prices of goods and services purchased by Belizean households were, on average, 0.7 percent higher than they were in October 2015. The All- Items consumer price index stood at 103.6, an increase from 102.9 in last October. For the first ten months of 2016, an inflation rate of 0.6 percent was recorded.

After trending downward for several months earlier in the year, higher prices in the sub-category of ‘Fuel’ continued to drive the Transport index gradually upward. On average, Diesel prices increased by 21 percent from $7.05 in October 2015 to $8.53 in October 2016, while Regular gasoline prices rose by 13 percent from $8.25 in October 2015 to $9.32 in October 2016. For the second month in a row, a 26 percent decline in international airfares was not sufficient to offset the rising cost of fuels. As a result, the ‘Transport’ index recorded its second increase since the start of the year, up by 1.3 percent in comparison to October of last year.

Within the ‘Food and Non-Alcoholic Beverages’ category, ‘Food’ prices were down by 0.2 percent in comparison to October 2015. This was mainly due to lower prices in ‘Meats’ and ‘Milk, Cheese and Eggs’. The average price per pound of ground beef decreased by 4.6 percent, while the price per dozen eggs fell by 11.7 percent. However, prices for fruits and vegetables both saw increases on average during the month, as a result of Hurricane Earl in early August of this year. The price per unit of plantains and limes rose by 9.5 and 27 percent, respectively, while that of tomatoes also increased from $2.39 per pound in October 2015 to $2.78 in October 2016.

For the month of October 2016, the ‘Housing, Water, Electricity, Gas and Other Fuels’category again recorded a slight overall increase of 0.3 percent. Home rental prices, the most significant component of this category, were 0.6 percent higher than in the same month of 2015, while the price of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) recorded a 2.8 percent increase. Electricity tariffs, on the other hand, remained lower than they were during this same period last year. On average, prices rose by 1 percent across ‘All other categories of goods and services’. This was mainly due to an increase in health services, specifically ‘Out-patient services’ which recorded a 4.8 percent increase for this month.

All municipalities recorded higher consumer prices for the month, with the exception of Dangriga and Punta Gorda Town, the only two municipalities reporting overall decreases in the Transport index. Corozal Town once again had the highest increase in home rental prices at 9 percent and, as a result, reported the highest inflation rate of 2 percent for the month of October.

Click here for the whole report!



External Trade Bulletin

IMPORTS DOWN 17%, EXPORTS DOWN 43%

IMPORTS

October 2016: Belize’s total imports for the month of October 2016 were valued at $152.8 million. This was a decrease of 17.1 percent or $31.4 million from imports for October 2015, which totaled $184.2 million.

Imports were down across almost all major categories, with goods destined for the ‘Export Processing Zones’ recording the steepest drop, from $13.8 million in October 2015 to $2.6 million in October of this year. Decreased purchases of turbines, gaming equipment, telecommunications equipment, and structures made of iron or steel were among the items that saw the greatest decline. The ‘Commercial Free Zones’ category fell by over $4.3 million for the month, owing to minimized importation of textile material, tennis shoes, cigarettes and clothing. While less imports of lard (shortening) and milk and cream resulted in a $3.7 million decrease in the ‘Food and Live Animals’ category, reduced beer, cigarettes, brandy and whiskey purchases were the leading cause of a $3.4 million wane in the ‘Beverages and Tobacco’ category.

The category of ‘Chemical Products’ saw imports reduced by almost $3 million, while ‘Manufactured Goods’ declined by $2 million, as Belize imported less fertilizers and carton boxes in the month of October 2016. Also, due to the fact that no premium fuel was imported during the month, the ‘Mineral Fuels and Lubricants’ category saw a reduction of $1.6 million. A similar decrease in the ‘Oils and Fats’ category was driven by a significant drop in soy bean oil imports. ‘The Machinery and Transport Equipment’ category fell by a negligible $1 million, with portable-radio telephones being among the items recording reduced purchases.


FIRST TEN MONTHS OF THE YEAR:Merchandise imports for the ten months from January to October 2016 totaled $1.6 billion, representing a 3.9 percent or $65.3 million decrease from the same period last year.

The ‘Export Processing Zones’ remained the single greatest cause of Belize’s declining imports over this period. Items destined for the ‘Export Processing Zones’ fell by $61 million over the ten months, from $101 million in 2015 to $40 million in 2016, with the fall in shrimp feed imports accounting for a considerable portion of that drop. Furthermore, although the combined quantities of diesel, regular and premium fuels declined by only 5 percent, lower international fuel prices resulted in $39 million less being spent on ‘Mineral Fuels and Lubricants’. The categories of ‘Chemical Products’, ‘Commercial Free Zones’ and ‘Manufactured Goods’ together saw a $42 million decline in imports. ‘Machinery and Transport Equipment’, on the other hand, grew by $53 million due largely to increased purchases of telecommunication parts and four cylinder and diesel vehicles, while imports of ‘Other Manufactures’ and ‘Food and Live Animals’ went up by a combined $27 million over the period.


EXPORTS

OCTOBER 2016: Total domestic exports for October 2016 amounted to $21.7 million, down 43 percent or $16.3 million when compared to exports for the month of October 2015.

Crude petroleum was the only major export to have performed more favorably during the month, with a $1 million growth, from $4.6 million in October of 2015 to $5.6 million in October 2016. The citrus category declined somewhat, as orange concentrate sales dropped by over $1 million. However this was partially offset by grapefruit concentrate exports, which almost doubled for the month. Shrimp exports remained weak, causing sales of marine products abroad to diminish from $7 million to $4.1 million, and the banana industry saw a reduction in exports from $8 million to $4.2 million during the month. Sugar, one of the country’s five major exports, reported no sales for October 2016, although $7.6 million of this commodity was exported in the same month of 2015.

FIRST TEN MONTHS OF THE YEAR: Merchandise exports for the first ten months of 2016 totaled $364.3 million, down 23.8 percent or $114.1 million from the same period last year.

Export earnings contracted for all major commodities, with the exception of citrus, which grew slightly by 2.9 percent or $2.3 million over the ten month period. Marine exports fell sharply by $49 million, a 62 percent plunge from the $79 million recorded for January to October of 2015. While banana receipts shrank by almost one third, from $85.7 million in 2015 to $60 million in 2016, crude petroleum experienced a similar drop, from $32.3 million to $22.5 million. Sugar, Belize’s strongest export earner, reported earnings of $102.5 million for the period January to October 2016, a 15.1 percent reduction in export returns. This decline, despite a marked increase of almost 10 percent in exported volume, was a clear indication of lower prices for sugar on the European market.


Click here for the whole report!



Gross Domestic Produce 3rd quarter 2016

BELIZEAN ECONOMY DECLINES 0.8% IN THIRD QUARTER: PRIMARY ACTIVITIES DOWN, SECONDARY AND TERTIARY ACTIVITIES UP.

The Statistical Institute of Belize’s preliminary Gross Domestic Product estimates for the third quarter of 2016 showed that, during the three months from July to September the country’s total production declined by 0.8 percent when compared to the same period in 2015. The total value of goods and services produced in Belize was $655 million, down almost $6 million from $661 million in the third quarter of 2015. For the first nine months of the year, the country’s level of production was 0.7% lower than in the first nine months of 2015.

The primary sector experienced a decline of 24 percent during the third quarter, when compared to the same period last year, with downturns recorded for several major industries. Marine exports fell by 61 percent, as the shrimp industry continued to struggle towards recovery. Banana shipments dropped by 14 percent, from 28 thousand metric tons to 24 metric tons, due to the closure of one of the major banana farms and the effects of Hurricane Earl. The only significant growth within this sector was observed in livestock production, which rose by 7 percent as poultry, swine and cattle production all recorded increases in production.

The tertiary sector, which accounts for over a half of the country’s economic activities, grew by 1.9 percent during the third quarter of 2016. “Accommodation and Food Services” recorded an increase of 10.1 percent as a result of approximately 12,000 more overnight visitors to the country over the period. “Government Services” also recorded an increase of 4.4 percent. On the contrary, the “Wholesale and Retail Trade” sector recorded a marginal decline of 0.1 percent as imports decreased by 0.4 percent for the three month period.

Click here for the whole report!



September 2016, Labor Force Survey

UNEMPLOYMENT RISES TO 11.1% IN SEPTEMBER 2016: 2,000 ADDITIONAL UNEMPLOYED

Preliminary results of the Statistical Institute of Belize’s most recent Labour Force Survey show that, in September 2016 there were a total of 17,952 unemployed persons in Belize. This represented an increase of 2,045 in the number of unemployed persons since September of 2015, despite the addition of over 3,800 new jobs during the period, and was the result of an influx of persons into the labour force at a faster rate than that at which new jobs were created. As a result, the national unemployment rate rose by almost 1 percentage point from 10.2 percent in September 2015 to 11.1 percent in September of 2016.

As of September 2016, the country’s Labour Force stood at 162,254, up significantly from 156,383 in September of 2015, with over 5,800 additional persons joining the workforce. While both males and females contributed to this rise in the national Labour Force, about three times as many females as males entered the workforce between September 2015 and September 2016. The female Labour Force rose by more than 4,500, with most of this increase occurring in urban areas, while the male workforce grew by just over 1,300, much of which took place in rural parts of the country.

The number of employed persons was also up, rising from 140,475 in September of last year to 144,302 in September 2016, as approximately 3,800 more persons were found to be working. All districts saw increases in the number of persons with jobs, except for the Belize and Stann Creek districts, which both experienced net losses of more than 1,000 jobs since last September. The Cayo district recorded the most gains in employment over the period, adding over 2,200 more jobs, a considerable portion of which was attributable to an increase in employment among persons from rural areas. Of all new jobs added during the period, almost 2,600 or two thirds went to females.

Click here for the whole report!



Business Establishment Survey

SIB PUBLISHES FINDINGS OF FIRST BUSINESS ESTABLISHMENT SURVEY

Based on the results of the BES, it was estimated that in 2016 there were approximately 7,975 active businesses operating within the country of Belize, of which one half were located in the Belize and Cayo districts. Wholesale and Retail Trade was the dominant economic activity, with two fifths of all business establishments reporting that they were engaged in these forms of trading activities. Within this broad category, about one tenth of all businesses were engaged primarily in the wholesale of food, beverages, and tobacco.

Only about one percent of the businesses sampled had recently started operating, that is, sometime between 2015 and 2016. One third of all establishments had been operating between 2 to 5 years at the time of the survey, while about 44 percent had been in operation for more than ten years. An estimated 8 percent of all businesses reported some degree of foreign ownership, with the vast majority of these being located in the Belize district. More than three quarters of all establishments were owned by sole proprietors, while 18 percent were classified as incorporated businesses.

Of all the businesses that reported revenues in excess of $500,000, one quarter were a part of the Wholesale and Retail Trade sector. Another 21 percent of these establishments earning more than half a million dollars per year formed a part of the Accommodation and Food sector, which includes the tourism industry.

Almost one fourth of all business that had more than 50 employees fell within the Accommodation and Food sector. However, about half of the total establishments within this sector, or almost 1,300 businesses, operated on a much smaller scale, employing between two and five persons. In the Transportation sector, four of every five establishments reported that they employed 20 or fewer workers, while within Construction, about 25 percent had more than 20 employees. Approximately one fifth of all businesses in the country of Belize can be classified as Small Businesses, as per the nationally accepted definition of Medium, Small and Micro Establishments. Only 13 percent could be categorized as either Medium or Large Businesses, and these were located primarily in the Cayo and Belize districts. The vast majority of establishments located in the north and south of the country were considered Micro enterprises, with as much as 85 percent of businesses in the Corozal and Toledo districts falling within this category.

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)


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#519414 - 12/01/16 05:59 AM Re: October 2016 Trade, GDP & CPI, Labour, Business Survey [Re: Marty]
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Inflation Trickles Up Due To Fuel

And while the price of beer is stable, inflation is not. In October of 2016, the consumer price index jogged up 0.7%.  The increase is driven mostly by fuel which was up more than a dollar when compared to October of 2015.  Here's how the inflation figures looked in different municipalities across the country.

Jacqueline Sabal - Statistician II, SIB
"For October of 2016 all municipalities recorded higher consumer prices for the month with the exception of Dangriga and Punta Gorda. These were the only 2 municipalities reporting over all decreases in the transport index. Corozal town once again had the highest increase in home rental prices at 9% and as a result the highest inflation rate of 2% for the month of October. Guatemala reported the highest rate at 4.8% while prices are actually falling by 0.9% in El Salvador. Belize falls somewhere in the middle at 0.7% alongside Honduras at 2.8, Nicaragua at 3.4%, Costa Rica at 0.6%, Panama at 1.4 and Jamaica at 1.8%."

SIB: Belikin Always Bountiful

And while the export picture, and productivity overall looks bleak, there's almost always one bright spot – and that's in beer production.  Routinely, the SIB reports double digit growth in local beer production – even as more than 10 million dollar sin foreign beer was imported last year.  But, according to the statisticians, Belikin continues prolific production.  Here's how they explained it:…

Angelita Campbell - Statistician II, SIB
"Beverage on the other hand went up by roughly 11.3% and that is because of an increase in beer production. Flour on the other hand went down by roughly 5.7%. Beer production actually went up by roughly 24.7% or roughly 143,000 gallons. Given that this quarter has the holiday of September celebration I would have expected some amount of increase in beer production."

Reporter
"You're comparing year on year."

Angelita Campbell - Statistician II, SIB
"Well yes for the quarter but we also had an increase in tourism as well so that could be of a result of an increase in beer. Everybody comes to Belize will want to try a Belizean beer so with the increase in tourism and celebration. Hotel and restaurants went up by roughly 10.1% within that industry we saw cruise passengers going down by roughly 3% as a result of cancellation due to Hurricane Earl; however overnight visitors went up by roughly 16%."

Citrus: Good Prices For Grapefruit

The only encouragement in export crops came from citrus.  Production was down, but world prices were up.  Orange concentrate sales dropped by over one million dollars, but grapefruit concentrate almost double din October.

Tiffany Vasquez - Statistician II, SIB
"Our citrus products right now on the market it's in demand because prices are good for citrus products on the outside market but however orange concentrate exports decreased but we still got increased earnings."

Exports for the first ten months of 2016 is down 23% from the same period last year.

Deep Dip For Exports In October

And that's where the exports come in.  As we told you earlier, exports for October 2106 were down a whopping 43% from October of the previous year.  Well most of it has to do with aquaculture and farmed shrimp.  That industry got wiped out by disease over the past two years.  Production is at a six year low, but the SIB says there are encouraging signs of a rebound:…

Tiffany Vasquez - Statistician II, SIB
"From the period January to October 2016 export earnings contracted for all major commodities with the exception of citrus which grew minimally owing to the fall of shrimp which plummeted by 88%. Marine exports dropped from 49 million to 30 million; however on a very positive note one shrimp farm has seen vast improvements in both production and exports hence recovery is afoot. To me the big positive here is that shrimp is about to rebound because I think it's Belize Aquaculture Limited the farm they have had very good results and they project a 4.95 million pounds for next year but that is only a projected estimate."

Imports Decline In October

And the economic picture looks even more depressing when we look at the trade statistics for October – and the ever widening trade imbalance.  Imports were down, but exports were waaay down.  How much?  Try 43%.  And much of the decline in imports had to do with the downturn in exports.  That's because with lesser activity at the shrimp farms, there was less shrimp feed imported.  Statistician Tiffany Vasquez explained: 

Tiffany Vasquez - Statistician II, SIB
"Imports to the export processing zones experienced the largest drop in imports at 60% falling from 61 million to 40 million with reduced shrimp feed imports accounting for 12 million of that declined. Imports destined for the commercial free zones fell by 6% or 14 million dollars to 246 million due in large part to reduced import of cigarettes, textile material and clothing."

Unemployment Rose In September

And while the GDP is down, unemployment is up – an expected mix for a faltering economy. That's the figure coming out of the labour force survey, conducted in September of this year.  It's the counterpart to the April 2016 survey which showed unemployment at a 10 year low of 8%.  Well, September doesn't bear such good news. Unemployment is up to 11.1% - which is just about one percentage point more than where it stood in September 2015.  Statistician Curwen Arthurs explained:

Curwin Arthurs - Statistician I, SIB
"So looking at the unemployment rate so we see that we had increases in the size of the labour force many due to women entering in but we also saw increases in terms of the labour force in terms of employed persons but also in terms of unemployed persons. So what that lead to is the national rate going up from 10.2% to 11.1% so it was a combination of the labour force going and more persons entering into the labour force mainly females at a rate higher than jobs were being created."

Unemployment was highest in the Stann Creek and Belize Districts, and three times higher among females.

Recession Deepens: GDP Negative Growth For Third Successive Quarter

Belize's economy is in a deepening recession.  That's based on the most recent figures from the Statistical Institute of Belize, which were released today.  They show that for the third successive quarter, the GDP showed negative growth.  The first quarter was a contraction of 0.2%, the second quarter there was contraction of 1%, and now the third quarter figures show contraction of 0.8%

Now, a recession is defined by two successive quarters of decline, and this is the third quarter of decline, which suggests that the recession is only getting worse. 

Now, because of citrus deliveries, the third quarters usually shows growth, and the figures show this is the first time in six years that the third quarter showed negative growth.  It's also the first time since 2007/2008 that there has been three successive quarters of contraction in the GDP.  

And what's driving it?  Well, production is down across all major industries, from fisheries, to aquaculture, to bananas.  All that accounts for a decrease of 5.6 million dollars in the total goods and services produced by Belize in the third quarter of 2016.

Channel 7


Recession Deepens: Exports Are Down, Prices Are Up and Thousands More Jobless

Figures were released today by the Statistical Institute of Belize that confirm a gloomy economy picture in this fashion: exports are down, prices are up and thousands have joined the unemployment lines.   According to SIB, for the third quarter of 2016, production by the main industries declined by more than twenty percent. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

The Belizean economy, already in the throes of recession, continues its downward trajectory by sliding a total of 0.8 percent in the third quarter.  With primary activities, including marine and banana exports down considerably, the period between July and September of this year points to an overall decline in productivity.  Goods and services produced locally stood at six hundred and fifty-five million dollars, behind approximately six million dollars from the same length of time in 2016.

Angelita Campbell, Statistician, SIB

“For the third quarter, the primary industries fell by roughly twenty-four percent.  Within that industry we saw fishing going down by roughly sixty-one percent as a result of nine million dollars less in marine export.  We see agriculture, hunting and forestry also decreasing by thirteen point four percent and within that industry we saw banana decreasing by roughly fourteen percent as a result of Hurricane Earl.  Within that sector as well, we see livestock going up however, by seven percent as a result of increase in production of swine and cattle.”

In spite of a drop in production, electricity and water held their own.  Energy generated by water power increased by almost eight percent when measured against the same period a year ago.  Distribution of water also grew by three point eight percent, owing to favorable weather conditions.

Angelita Campbell

“Electricity recorded an increase of roughly seven point nine percent due to favorable weather conditions that positively affected the hydroelectric power generation.  We see water generation going up by roughly three point eight percent and that is as a result of continued upgrading of distribution lines.”

Overall, the gross domestic product for the third quarter of 2016 was down by twenty-three point seven percent in the major industries, and up by two percent in the secondary and tertiary sectors.

The cost of goods and services also rose by point seven percent, up from last October.  So did the cost of fuel.  Motorists absorbed increases in the price per gallon of diesel and regular gasoline.

Jacqueline Sabal, Statistician, SIB

“Fuel has been the main contributor to the overall increase in the transport index.  It has been trending gradually upward from March and the recorded nine percent increase in October of this year has been the largest increase since January.  We are also curious to see how the change in bus fare will impact the transport index.  Unfortunately, it is not reflected in the data being presented here as our collection period had already passed when the bus fare price change was finalized.”

Add to the dismal economic climate is the fact that two thousand Belizeans have since joined the unemployment line since September, bringing the total to seventeen thousand, nine hundred and fifty-two men and women who are presently jobless.

Curwen Arthurs, Statistician, SIB

“We noticed that of all working age persons, about sixty-four point three percent of them were actually economically active.  If we go even further, in more details in terms of sex, we notice that the males are participating about four out of every five males are participating in the labor force.  In terms of females, it’s about half.  One out of every two females. The number of unemployed persons was estimated to be about seventeen thousand, nine hundred and fifty-two and this represented an increase of over two thousand persons compared to last September.”

Across the districts, Stann Creek once again has the highest rate of unemployment.  The Corozal District, notwithstanding a net gain of over one thousand jobs, also saw an increase in unemployment, simply because there were more people joining the labor force than there were new jobs during that period. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

Channel 5


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#519478 - 12/03/16 06:30 AM Re: October 2016 Trade, GDP & CPI, Labour, Business Survey [Re: Marty]
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2,045 more Belizeans on the unemployment line

Belize’s unemployment numbers are up, based on latest information released today by Curwen Arthurs, Statistician I at the Statistical Institute of Belize (SIB). Arthurs reported that whereas last September reported an unemployment rate of 10.2%, this September recorded an unemployment rate of 11.1%. The jobs created were not enough to meet the rising demand for employment.

This represents a partial reversal of what was reported coming out of the last survey, which recorded a fall in the unemployment rate from 10% in April 2015 to 8% this April, with over 8,700 new jobs added.

According to the SIB, “….in September 2016, there were a total of 17,952 unemployed persons in Belize. This represented an increase of 2,045 in the number of unemployed persons since September of 2015, despite the addition of over 3,800 new jobs during the period…[which was] the result of an influx of persons into the labour force at a faster rate than that at which new jobs were created.”

“All districts saw increases in the number of persons with jobs, except for the Belize and Stann Creek Districts, which both experienced net losses of more than 1,000 jobs since last September,” the SIB said.

Meanwhile, the Cayo District recorded the most gains in employment over the period, adding over 2,200 more jobs, said the report.

Arthurs noted that 59% of the unemployed have been out of a job for about 6 months, but most have not been jobless for more than a year.

The unemployment problem is most acute among youth, women and persons living in urban communities.

Of note is that while the Stann Creek District recorded the highest unemployment rate of 17.7%, attributable to commercial job losses in aquaculture and agriculture, as those sectors continue to be adversely impacted by an economic downturn, the lowest unemployment of 3.4% was recorded in the Toledo District, where rural dwellers pursue more traditional livelihoods.

Belize suffers continuing recession

In September, there was an official announcement signalling that Belize is experiencing a recession, a declaration usually made after two successive quarters (or six months) of negative economic growth—measured by the total value of goods and services produced by the country, which represents a tally of all production: from how many bananas were produced to how many cruise tourists visited our shores.

Latest reports from the Statistical Institute of Belize (SIB) indicate that Belize has in fact experienced three consecutive quarters (or 9 months) of negative growth, the first such scenario since the period spanning July 2007 to March 2008—which coincided with the final months of the Musa administration and the initial months of the Barrow administration, as well as the 2008 recession in the United States.


Angelita Campbell, Statistician II at the SIB, said that Belize produced $655.4 million worth of goods and services for the third quarter, which spans July to September 2016. This represents a decline of 0.8% or $5.6 million for that period, worsening the contraction recorded earlier this year: 0.2% for the first quarter (January to March) and 1.0% for the second quarter (April to June).

Angelita Campbell, Statistician II at the SIB, said that Belize produced $655.4 million worth of goods and services for the third quarter, which spans July to September 2016. This represents a decline of 0.8% or $5.6 million for that period, worsening the contraction recorded earlier this year: 0.2% for the first quarter (January to March) and 1.0% for the second quarter (April to June).

According to the SIB, “For the first nine months of the year, the country’s level of production was 0.7% lower than in the first nine months of 2015.”

Whereas Belize’s economic performance continues to be positive on the services front, the nation’s primary industries continue to underperform, with the most marked change seen in the fishing industry, in which production fell by as much as 61%, resulting in $9 million less in revenue during the third quarter.

However, Belize Aquaculture Limited (BAL) is reportedly expected to pick up production with the introduction of probiotic treatment at its farms, Campbell said. (Whether that will buffer the recession in the months ahead is yet to be seen.)

Whereas Belize recorded a 2.9% growth in 2015, based on revised figures from the SIB, it has consistently recorded negative growth since the start of 2016. The total decline to date has amounted to roughly $14.2 million. The decline recorded during the last recession (2007-2008) was $28.3 million.

According to Campbell, production in the primary sector dropped by $14.7 million, while production in the secondary sectors rose by $1.9 million and in the tertiary sector by $7.1 million—but not enough to offset the decline in the primary sector. This resulted in the net decline of almost $6 million.

Agriculture, which includes hunting and forestry, declined 13.4%. Banana declined 14% but livestock increased 7%. No sugar was exported for the period in question, as the season was closed.

Secondary industries grew by about 2%, with electricity production increasing by 7% and water production increasing 3.8%.

Petroleum production dropped by 12.5%, with production down by 16,000 barrels, but beverage production rose by 11.3%. According to Campbell, beer production was up by 24.7%, or 143,000 gallons.

The tertiary industries grew by 1.9%, with the strongest growth being recorded for hotel and restaurants at 10.1%. Cruise arrivals were down 3% during the quarter while the number of overnight visitors increased by 16%.

According to the SIB, “‘Accommodation and Food Services’ recorded an increase of 10.1 percent as a result of approximately 12,000 more overnight visitors to the country over the period.”

However, roughly 4,000 less cruise tourists visited for the third quarter, according to the data provided. Campbell said the decline was due to cancellations as a consequence of Hurricane Earl, which made landfall in Belize on August 3.

Belize exports down by over $100 mil so far this year

Belize continues to import far more merchandise than the goods it exports for consumption on the world market, with the ratio of merchandise imports to domestic exports standing at over 4 to 1.

The Statistical Institute of Belize (SIB) reported this week that earnings from Belize’s major exports continue to be lower than they were at the same time last year, with a few exceptions—the most notable one being orange concentrate, which has been attracting better prices on the world market.

SIB Statistician, Tiffany Vasquez, reported this week on the country’s external trade position as of October 2016. She noted that while Belize had imported $1.6 billion worth of goods for the period January to October, domestic exports totaled $364.3 million. Domestic exports fell substantially by 24%, while merchandise imports fell marginally at 4%.

The biggest import category is machinery and transport equipment, and that grew by $53 million, to register at $419 million; but everything else declined.

According to Vasquez, the export processing zone took the biggest plunge with a decline in imports of 60%, primarily due to reduced importation of shrimp feed.

Whereas the import bill grew by about $65 million, mostly on account of telecommunications equipment which valued $26 million, the domestic export receipts were down by $114 million.

The only major domestic exports which saw an increase in earnings were animal feed, with an increase of 7.4% to $12.2 million, and citrus, which netted $2.3 million more due to better prices for citrus concentrate, for total earnings of $81.5 million for the period in question.

Marine exports were down by more than 50%, from $79 million to $30 million. Whereas banana earned $25 million less due to lower prices on the European market, resulting in earnings of $60 million, receipts from sugar, the biggest income earner for Belize, were reported at $102 million, down by 18%, or 18.5 million. Vasquez said that roughly 84% of Belize’s sugar was sold in the United Kingdom.

Marine exports are expected to improve in 2017, as Belize Aquaculture Limited (BAL), a Bowen company which recently introduced a probiotic system, picks up production, she indicated.

Almost 8,000 active businesses; over 1,000 closed

Of the nearly 8,000 businesses operating in Belize, almost three-fourths are sole proprietorships, and about half employ between two and five workers, according to preliminary results of the first business establishment survey conducted by the Statistical Institute of Belize (SIB).

Jefte Ochaeta, Statistician I, said that businesses reported an expense-to-revenue ratio of about 70 percent, meaning that of every dollar earned in revenues, 70 cents went to covering their various expenses. Wages and salaries paid to employees accounted for 13 percent of total expenditures across all industries, the survey found.

Roughly 73% of the respondents, who filled out part B of the survey, offering financial disclosure, said they make less than $75,000—which is the business tax threshold. Among the wholesale and retail businesses, almost 8 in 10 said that they make less than the threshold.

Of the 4,154 businesses picked for the survey, conducted in April and May of this year across all six districts, 1,168 were listed as vacant or non-existent. About 45% of the businesses had ceased operations due to financial hardships, while the remaining 55% cited product failure, product disease or owner’s health problems. How recent the closures are is unknown.

Of the remainder, 2,150 responded to at least part A of the survey. The respondents spanned all economic sectors, with the exception of banking and insurance enterprises, for which the SIB already has information via official channels.

Ochaeta reported that roughly 44% of the businesses are within the wholesale and retail trade; and motor vehicle repair category. Accommodation and food services are provided by 16% of the businesses.

“Based on the results of the BES, it was estimated that in 2016 there were approximately, 7,975 active businesses operating within the country of Belize, of which one half were located in the Belize and Cayo districts,” the SIB said.

It added that, “Wholesale and Retail Trade was the dominant economic activity, with two fifths of all business establishments reporting that they were engaged in these forms of trading activities.”

Most of the businesses in operation, about 44%, had been in operation for more than ten years; conversely, only 1% of businesses were initiated within the past year.

Only 8% of businesses (roughly 600) reported that they have some degree of foreign ownership. Most foreign-owned businesses are located within the Belize District.

The next Business Establishment Survey is scheduled to be carried out in 2018.

Amandala


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