Consumer Price Index

CONSUMER PRICES UP 1.1% IN DECEMBER 2016

The latest figures released by the Statistical Institute of Belize show that, on average, consumer prices were 1.1 percent higher in December 2016 than they were in December 2015. The All- Items consumer price index stood at 104.0, an increase from 102.9 in December of 2015. For the year 2016 an inflation rate of 0.7 percent was recorded.

In December 2016 the ‘Transport’ index rose by 9.9 percent when compared to December 2015. This index remained the main contributor to the rising inflation rate. Fuel prices rose by 15.5 percent, with Diesel prices recording the highest increase of 35.9 percent in comparison to December 2015. The rise in bus fares in October 2016 continues to impact the overall ‘Transport’ index along with increasing international airfare prices.

In the ‘Food and Non-Alcoholic Beverages’ category, which saw an overall 1.6 percent decrease, ‘Food’ prices alone were down by 1.5 percent in comparison to December 2015. On average, vegetable prices recorded a 6.5 percent decrease as carrot, onion and sweet pepper prices fell during the month. The ‘Milk, Cheese and Eggs’ category also experienced an overall 4.5 percent decrease in prices. The price per dozen eggs stood at $3.21, down 14.2 percent from $3.74 in December of 2015. However, sugar prices, which recorded a 29.4 percent increase on average, once again offset some of the effect of falling prices among other food items.

There was virtually no change in the ‘Housing, Water, Electricity, Gas and Other Fuels’ category. The price of a 100 pound cylinder of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) increased slightly by 1.2 percent from $83.88 in December 2015 to $84.91 in December 2016. Electricity tariffs also increased compared to December 2015 while decreases were recorded in home rental prices.

Across ‘All Other Categories of Goods and Services’ prices rose by 0.6 percent in comparison to December 2015. In keeping with trends observed in November, ‘Health’ services recorded an overall 1.5 percent increase, mainly due to an rise in doctor’s consultation fees.

Orange Walk Town and Belmopan recorded the highest inflation rates for the month at 2.8 and 2.7 percent, respectively. Both municipalities had the largest increases in the overall ‘Transport’ category and in home rental prices, which were largely responsible for their high inflation rates. Across the nation, Dangriga and Punta Gorda Town recorded the only decreases in consumer prices for the month. Fuel prices were not as high in Dangriga during the month when compared to the other municipalities, while Punta Gorda recorded one of the smallest increases in the overall ‘Transport’ index.

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External Trade Bulletin

IMPORTS DOWN 3.2%, EXPORTS DOWN 10.7% IN DECEMBER 2016

IMPORTS

December 2016: Belize’s total imports for the month of December 2016 were valued at $173.9 million. This was a decrease of 3.2 percent or $5.8 million from last December’s imports, which were valued at $179.7 million.

For the second consecutive month, imports of ‘Machinery and Transport Equipment’ remained the category with the steepest decline, recording a drop of over $7 million in December 2016, due mostly to reduced purchases of tractors, telecommunication parts and four cylinder vehicles. While lower imports of gaming machines and AC generators contributed to a $2.7 million decrease in goods destined for the ‘Export Processing Zones’, diminished purchases of turkey meat, along with instant and roasted coffee led to a $1.6 million fall in the ‘Food and Live Animals’ category during the month. Imports into the ‘Commercial Free Zones’, on the other hand, grew by over $4 million, with cigarettes and various types of bags being among the increased items. Additionally, in December 2016, $2.6 million more was spent on ‘Mineral Fuels and Lubricants’ when compared to December 2015, as quantities of imported diesel spiked during the month. The categories of ‘Manufactured Goods’ and ‘Crude Materials’ went up by $1.2 million and $1 million, respectively, largely driven by increased imports of corrugated steel rods and pine lumber.


TWELVE MONTHS OF THE YEAR: Merchandise imports for the year 2016 totaled almost $2 billion, a decrease of 4.3 percent or $89.1 million from the total imports recorded for 2015.

The year’s most significant drop in imports was observed within the ‘Export Processing Zones’ category, which fell from $115.8 million to $45.3 million, mainly because as Belize’s shrimp exports diminished, so did the industry’s demand for shrimp feed. In 2016, Belize spent over $20 million less on diesel fuel, despite only a minor reduction in the quantities imported, as a result of lower world market prices for fuel, leading to a $37.7 million decline in the ‘Mineral Fuels and Lubricants’ category. Importation of ‘Chemical Products’ shrank by $13.7 million for the year, primarily due to reduced purchases of PVC pipes, fertilizers, and medical supplies, while lowered imports of handbags, clothes and cigarettes resulted in an $11.6 million decline in the ‘Commercial Free Zones’ category. Decreased purchases of carton boxes, tires and steel bars resulted in an $11.1 million drop in imports of ‘Manufactured Goods’. On the other hand, imports of ‘Machinery and Transport Equipment’ rose by $29.2 million during the year 2016 due to increased imports of telecommunication parts, while ‘Other Manufactures’ were up by almost $20 million as a result of heightened purchases of prefabricated buildings and laboratory plastics.

EXPORTS

December 2016: Total domestic exports for December 2016 amounted to $17.9 million, down 10.7 percent or $2.1 million when compared to December, 2015.

With orange concentrate earnings down by almost a half compared to December 2015, the last month of the year saw a drop of $2.8 million in citrus exports, from $6.2 million to $3.4 million. Banana sales contributed minimally to the month’s decline, as exports for that commodity decreased only slightly from $5.7 million to $5.1 million. Sugar, the country’s largest export revenue earner, grew negligibly in comparison to December 2015, from $0.4 million to $0.5 million. In contrast, the category of marine exports performed strongly at the close of the year, as improved shrimp exports prompted a climb in revenues from $3.6 million to $5.7 million for the month.

TWELVE MONTHS OF THE YEAR: Domestic exports for the year 2016 totaled $401.9 million, down 25.1 percent or $134.7 million dollars from the $536.6 million recorded for 2015.

This significant drop in Belize’s export earnings for the year 2016 when compared to 2015 was as a result of decreased earnings across all major commodities. Citrus, the least impacted of these commodities, experienced only a minimal 1.5 percent decline during the year. Despite a marked drop in the quantities of orange concentrate exported, that product enjoyed favourable market prices over the year, the overall result being only a modest fall in citrus export earnings.

Sugar fell by a sizeable 23.3 percent, from $134.4 million during 2015 to $103.1 million in 2016, despite virtually no change in exported volumes, due to lowered world market prices for this commodity. Banana earnings also experienced a steep drop, with a 28.5 percent slump in revenues, from $97.8 million in 2015 to almost $70 million in 2016. Crude petroleum exports for the year 2016 amounted to $22.5 million, down $13.9 million from that of 2015. The year’s low world market prices for crude, coupled with a 17.1 percent reduction in the quantity of exported barrels, resulted in a 38.2 percent drop in earnings for that commodity. Notwithstanding shrimp’s positive showing towards the end of 2016, the year’s greatest export losses were observed within the marine category, with revenue falling by over a half, from $88.1 million in 2015 to almost $42 million in 2016.


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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)



Statistical Institute of Belize - Overview of 2016 Figures