Consumer Price Index

CONSUMER PRICES UP 1.3% IN NOVEMBER 2016

According to latest figures released by the Statistical Institute of Belize, on average, consumer prices were 1.3 percent higher in November 2016 than they were in November 2015. The All-Items consumer price index stood at 104.2, an increase from 102.9 in last November. For the first eleven months of 2016, a year-to-date inflation rate of 0.6 percent was recorded.

The ‘Transport’ index remains a major contributor to the overall rise in consumer prices, recording a 9.4 percent increase in comparison to November of 2015. ‘Fuel’ prices rose across the board, as Regular gasoline saw an increase of 22.1 percent, Premium gasoline rose by 18.4 percent, and Diesel prices increased by 25 percent in comparison to the same month of last year. The impact of the rise in bus fares, which came into effect during late October of this year, was also evident in this category, as ‘Passenger transport by road’ recorded a 5.6 percent increase in November 2016. Prices for new motor vehicles were also up, rising by an average of 4.3 percent. In contrast to the trend observed over the past year, international airfares were up when compared to November 2015, recording a substantial 45.7 percent increase in November 2016.

Within the ‘Food and Non-Alcoholic Beverages’ category, ‘Food’ prices were down very slightly by 0.3 percent in comparison to November 2015, with prices for meats and eggs both declining during the month. The average price of ground beef, for example, decreased by 13.3 percent, while that of a dozen eggs was down by 12.8 percent. The average price per pound of sugar, which rose at the start of 2016, was more than 45 percent higher than it was in November 2015, the effect of which served to offset the falling prices that were seen among other categories of food.

The ‘Housing, Water, Electricity, Gas and Other Fuels’ category recorded a slight increase of 0.4 percent for November 2016. This was mainly due to a 5.9 percent increase in electricity tariffs earlier in the year coupled with a 1.5 percent increase in the price of a 100 pound cylinder of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG). Home rental prices saw a slight decrease of 0.2 percent, the first recorded decrease since the start of the year.

Across ‘All Other Categories of Goods and Services’, prices rose by 0.6 percent on average. Increases were experienced in prices for ‘Women’s Footwear’ as well as ‘Health’ services, as an increase in doctor’s consultation fees was observed.

Orange Walk Town, with an inflation rate of 3.2 percent, recorded the highest increase in consumer prices during the month, as it had one of the largest increases in the transport index. Punta Gorda Town, on the other hand, recorded the lowest, with consumer prices actually decreasing by 0.4 percent.

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External Trade Bulletin

IMPORTS DOWN 9%, EXPORTS DOWN 50%

IMPORTS

NOVEMBER 2016: During the month of November 2016, Belize’s imported goods were valued at $172.2 million, down 9.4 percent or $17.9 million from the $190.2 million imported in November of 2015.

Belize’s largest import type, ‘Machinery and Transport Equipment’, saw its greatest drop since the start of 2016, falling sharply from $60 million to $43 million, as purchases of auto parts fell by a substantial $18 million for the month. Items meant for Belize’s ‘Export Processing Zones’ and ‘Commercial Free Zones’ decreased by smaller amounts of $6.6 million and $1.6 million, respectively. While the decline recorded in the former category was largely the result of lowered imports of electrical transformers and metal furniture, the reduction in the latter was mostly brought upon by reduced purchases of tennis shoes and clothing. Importation of ‘Mineral Fuels and Lubricants’ fell by a minimal $1 million for the month, as increases in the quantities of regular and premium fuels were counterbalanced by a drop of about three fourths in diesel imports.

Marked increases were observed in only two categories, that of ‘Other Manufactures’ and ‘Beverages and Tobacco’. While heightened importation of gold jewelry, prefabricated steel buildings and plastic bottles led to a $3.4 million growth in the ‘Other Manufactures’ category, a spike in cigarette purchases led to a $2 million rise in the category of ‘Beverages and Tobacco’.


FIRST ELEVEN MONthS OF THE YEAR: Merchandise imports for the period January to November 2016 totaled $1.8 billion, representing a 4.4 percent or an $83.5 million decrease from the same eleven month period last year.

The global impact of lower fuel prices on the ‘Mineral Fuels and Lubricants’ category and the fact that Belize imported approximately 60 percent less into its ‘Export Processing Zones’, together accounted for an almost $108 million reduction in imports during the period. Additionally, the combined effect of lowered importation of ‘Chemical Products’, ‘Manufactured Goods’ and goods destined for the ‘Commercial Free Zones’ resulted in a combined $42 million drop in imports. Although purchases of ‘Machinery and Transport Equipment’ and ‘Other Manufactures’ grew by a combined $57 million, these increases were offset by the period’s more dominant decreases.

EXPORTS

NOVEMBER 2016: The total value of Belize’s domestic exports for the month of November 2016 was $19.1 million, representing a 50 percent drop from the $38.2 million recorded in November 2015.

The month’s decline was largely as a result of the exhaustion of bulk shipments of sugar for the year 2016, resulting in only smaller shipments of bagged sugar being exported for the month of November. Sugar earnings for the month fell considerably, from $13.4 million in November 2015 when a bulk shipment was exported, to just over $145 thousand in November 2016. It should be noted that month over month comparisons of earnings from this major export have been greatly impacted by the differing schedules for bulk shipments in the comparable years of 2015 and 2016.

Falling crude petroleum earnings also contributed to the significant drop in export revenues, with receipts diminishing from $4 million in November 2015 to zero in November 2016, as no crude was exported during the month. Export gains for bananas decreased from $6.4 million to $4.4 million during the month, while that of citrus fell slightly from $3.9 million to $3.1 million.

On the other hand, earnings from marine products grew marginally, from $5.5 million in November of last year to $5.6 million in November 2016. This was the first positive showing for that category, and for shrimp exports, since the beginning of the year.

FIRST ELEVEN MONTHS OF THE YEAR: Merchandise exports for the period January to November 2016 totaled almost $384 million, down by $132.5 million or one fourth from the same eleven month period last year.

The category of marine products experienced the most substantial export losses, falling by $48.2 million from $84.5 million in 2015 to $36.3 million in 2016, owing mostly to low shrimp sales. The volume of sugar exported for the period was virtually unchanged from the same eleven months during 2015. Nonetheless, sugar earnings for said period of 2016 dropped by 23.5 percent or $31.5 million when compared to 2015, as that commodity has suffered the effects of lower prices on the European market.

Belize’s other major exports, banana and crude petroleum, each saw receipts dwindle during the period, with bananas earnings falling by $27.3 million from $92.1 million in 2015 to $64.8 million in 2016, and that of crude petroleum dropping by $13.9 million from $36.4 million to $22.5 million. Citrus exports, on the other hand, grew by $1.4 million to $84.6 million, as world market prices for orange concentrate were favorable over the period.


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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)