External Trade Bulletin
IMPORTS DOWN 6.7%, EXPORTS DOWN 12.7%
MARCH: During the month of March 2016, Belize imported goods
valued at $163.4 million, falling by 6.7 percent or $11.7 million from
the $175.1 million imported in March of 2015.
The ‘Mineral Fuels and Lubricants’ category was the primary
contributor to the month’s decline in imports, dropping by a substantial
$10 million, almost half of what was reported for the comparable
month in 2015. The ongoing trend of lower purchasing price for fuel,
combined with the fact that no premium fuel was imported, drove
the month’s significant decrease. Likewise, imports of ‘Manufactured
Goods’ and ‘Other Manufactures’ fell notably within the month, by
$5.5 million and $2 million, respectively. While the latter was the
result of reduced imports of steel, carton boxes and cement, the
former was due to reduced purchases of jewelry and prefabricated
steel buildings. Additionally, owing largely to the continued drop
in shrimp feed imports, goods destined for the ‘Export Processing
Zones’ fell by $1 million for the month.
On the other hand, ‘Machinery and Transport Equipment’ accounted
for a quarter of the total imports at $40 million, as increased
purchases of vehicles and gas turbines drove that category up by
almost $5 million over that reported for March 2015. Furthermore,
goods meant for the ‘Commercial Free Zones’ and the ‘Food and
Live Animals’ category each grew by $2 million due to increased
imports of cigarettes, clothing and various food items.
FIRST THREE MONTHS OF THE YEAR: Merchandise imports
for the three months January to March 2016 totaled $462.7 million,
representing a 5.5 percent or $26.9 million decrease over the same
period last year.
In accordance with March’s performance, ‘Mineral Fuel and
Lubricants’ and ‘Machinery and Transport Equipment’ were the
categories in greatest contrast over the three month period. While
‘Mineral Fuel and Lubricants’ was the source of Belize’s steepest
decline at $21 million, falling from $58 million to $37 million,
‘Machinery and Transport Equipment’ held the country’s greatest
imports, growing by more than $15 million over the period.
MARCH: Total domestic exports for March 2016 amounted to $51.5
million, down 12.7 percent or $7.5 million when compared to exports
for the month of March 2015.
Sugar’s bulk shipment led to a marked $8 million increase in earnings
for that commodity, rising from $18.4 million for March 2015 to $26.4
million for March 2016. Of note, exported sugar quantities almost
doubled in the month of March, with receipts from those sales
constituting less than a 50 percent increase, signaling a reduction in
fetched prices on the European market. This growth partially offset declines in Belize’s other major exports, marine, banana and citrus, which
fell by $6 million, $5.4 million and $1.5 million, respectively. Marine exports plummeted from $8.5 million to $2.5 million, due almost entirely to
a sharp fall in shrimp sales. Further, banana exports were halved from $11.6 million to $6.2 million, while citrus sales fell marginally from $12.5
million to $11 million, owing to lowered orange concentrate exports. Crude Petroleum reported no external sales for March 2015 and 2016 and
thus had no impact on the month’s exports.
FIRST THREE MONTHS OF THE YEAR: Merchandise exports for the first quarter of 2016 totaled $104 million, down 27.5 percent or $39.5
million from the same period last year.
Owing to the surge in sugar sales within the month of March, sugar became the only major export to have increased over the three month period,
growing from $27 million to $31 million.
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Consumer Price Index
CONSUMER PRICES INCREASE IN MARCH BY 0.1% AS
FOOD PRICES INCREASE
The Consumer Price Index for the month of March stood at 102.9,
up 0.1 percent from 102.7 in March 2015. This is a continuation
of the trend observed since January 2016 when the first increase
in the inflation rate was recorded after over a year of decrease.
For the first quarter of this year inflation rate is slowly decreasing
from a high of 0.4 percent in January.
Within the “Food & Non-Alcoholic Beverages” category, the prices
of “Food” recorded an increase of 1.6 percent. This was largely
due to increases in fruits (4.4%), eggs (8.2%), sugar (29.5%),
beef and veal (16.5%) and pork (5.5%).On the other hand, red
kidney beans continued to reflect a decrease of 14.5 percent.
A 4.7 percent decrease was recorded in the “Transport” category.
The prices of regular and diesel gasoline decreased by 0.9 percent
and 6.2 percent respectively, while premium gasoline increased
by 1.8 percent. International airfares drastically decreased by 32
The “Housing, Water, Electricity, Gas and Other Fuels” category
increased marginally by 0.1 percent. Within this category, home
rental prices increased by 0.7 percent. Since the beginning of
2016, the trend continues with increases in this major category
being offset by decreases in the prices of electricity and LPG.
The average price of a 100-pound cylinder decreased from $93
in March 2015 to $84 in March 2016.
Across the seven municipalities, Corozal and Punta Gorda
recorded the highest inflation rate of 1.7 percent and 1.3 percent,
respectively, while both San Ignacio/Santa Elena and Belize City
stood at negative 0.3 percent. Over the first quarter, Corozal
reported an increase from 1.0 percent in January to 1.5 percent
in February. Punta Gorda’s inflation rate is basically constant
over the first 3 months of 2016 while Dangriga boasts the lowest
inflation rate of negative 1.0 percent a downward trend from 4.0
percent in January and negative 0.9 in February.
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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)