As one year ends and we embrace a new year, we tend to reflect on all that has happened and make comparisons to see if the year was better or worst than the previous. At the end of 2013, the same approach was taken and an economic review was done with the assistance of the Statistical Institute of Belize. In their assessment, they highlighted that Belize’s economy has seen several improvements, however it also faced quite a few downfalls over the last 12 months as compared to 2012.
At the end of 2012, the economic review shows that Belize’s GDP was at $3.0 billon, with a growth of 5.3% and $8,754 per capita. Foreign Direct Investments were recorded at $197.9 million while public debt was at 78.1% of GDP. The Belize economy has shown a slow small growth from 2012-2013. GDP figures over the first 9 months of 2013 as compared to the same time in 2012 showed that the country grew by a minute 0.4%. A bit under what was anticipated. This is due to banana production which was down 6% and oil production which is also down due to oil fields nearing depletion.
At the beginning of 2013, the government announced that it would restructure the $544 million dollar “Superbond” commercial debt. It represents the second debt restructuring since 2006. After the new bond offer was closed, Standard & Poor’s (international rating agency) released a statement saying that it projects a “stable” outlook for Belize.
The economic review also revealed that the country had some favourable decreases such as unemployment which is down from 16.1% to 14.2% which means that approximately 1500 more persons are now working. Inflation was at an interesting 1.6% at the end of December 2013.
Belize’s trade balance also seems to be showing a growing imbalance from year to year. The trade balance basically refers to how much a country imports compared to how much it exports. The Belize economic review revealed that at the end of the 3rd quarter of 2013, imports had increased by 28% from what it was at the end of October 2012. Exports however, showed a 7% decrease over the same period. This means we are spending more on imports and not getting significant returns on products going out of the country. Fuel imports increased by $10 million while citrus and crude oil exports have declined by $30 million each.
According to the September 2013 statistics, the Consumer Price Index was up by 0.8%. This was due to an increase in transportation, housing, water, electricity, fuel and food. Overall food prices in September was up by 2.3% compared to the same time in 2012. However, there was a decrease in the cost of clothing and footwear.
Tourism continues to be a primary income earner for the country. The Belize Tourism Board (BTB) informed that overnight arrivals increased by over 17,000 in the first 8 months of 2013 and cruise ship arrivals increase by 5.3% with 26,000 additional visitors in the first quarter alone. Together this represents an 8% increase in tourism by the end of the 3rd quarter.
Generally speaking, after our economic review, we conclude that our little democratic country remains stable. We enjoyed a small growth over the last 12 months and continue to extend a welcoming hand to visitors and investors alike. Come and enjoy the peace and tranquillity of our diverse country as we continue to move forward.