Consumer Price Index

CONSUMER PRICES UP 0.9% IN JANUARY 2017

The latest figures released by the Statistical Institute of Belize show that, on average, the prices of goods and services purchased by Belizean Households were 0.9 percent higher in January 2017 than they were in January of 2016. The All-Items consumer price index stood at 104.1, an increase from 103.2 in January 2016.

The ‘Fuel’ sub-category continues to follow last year’s pattern, trending upward. Diesel prices recorded the highest increase when compared to January 2016, rising 40 percent from $6.52 to $9.12. The average price of premium gasoline stood at $10.12 for the month of January 2017, an 18 percent increase from $8.57 in January 2016, while regular gasoline stood at $9.96, a 23 percent increase from $8.11 in the same month of 2016. Further driving the category upwards, international airfare prices recorded a 47 percent increase when compared to last January, while the rise in bus fares in October of last year was reflected in a 5.6 percent increase in the ‘Passenger Transport by Road’ sub-category. As a result of these increases, the ‘Transport’ category recorded an overall 9.4 percent increase for the month.

The ‘Food and Non-Alcoholic Beverages’ category falling by 2.5 percent was able to slightly offset the rise in that of ‘Transport’ during the month. ‘Food’ prices fell by more than 2 percent, mainly due to decreases in the average prices of certain meats and vegetables. The average price per pound of beef steak, for example, dropped by 9 percent from $8.65 in January of last year to $7.86 in the same month of 2017, while that of pork chops fell from $7.18 to $6.93. Among vegetables and fruits, prices for sweet pepper and watermelon each saw significant decreases during the month (see Table 1). The cost for a dozen eggs also declined, falling by 14 percent during the month.

The ‘Housing, Water, Electricity, Gas and Other Fuels’ category recorded a 0.1 percent increase in comparison to January of 2016. While electricity tariffs were up by 5.9 percent compared to January of 2016, the average price of a 100-pound cylinder of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) increased by 2.1 percent1. Home rental prices were down slightly by 0.2 percent during the period.

Although most municipalities saw increases in consumer prices during the month of January 2017, Punta Gorda and Dangriga Town both recorded decreases of 0.4 percent. Orange Walk Town had the highest rate of inflation, at 2.6 percent, with Belmopan not far behind at 2.4 percent (see figure 3). ‘Transport’ once again played a key role in the varying inflation rates across the country. Orange Walk Town recorded the highest increase in the ’Transport’ index while Punta Gorda experienced one of the smallest.

1 The increase in LPG prices, which took effect January 11th, was after the price collection period for the month but will be captured in the CPI for February.

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External Trade Bulletin

IMPORTS UP 7.7%, EXPORTS UP 51.2% IN JANUARY 2017

IMPORTS

January 2017: During the month of January 2017, Belize’s total imports were valued at $141.1 million, rising by 7.7 percent or $10.1 million when compared to almost $131 million imported in January 2016.


The start of the year saw increased imports across most categories, with goods destined for the ‘Commercial Free Zones’ recording the largest growth at $5.6 million. While this upswing was mainly the result of heightened purchases of cigarettes, greater importation of books, plastic crates and prefabricated buildings led to a $3 million rise in the ‘Other Manufactures’ category. Notably, the year began with an upsurge in world market prices for fuel, and despite seeing only a moderate increase in the quantity of regular fuel imported, Belize spent considerably more in January 2017 than it did in January 2016 on this product. This contributed to a marked climb in the ‘Mineral Fuels and Lubricants’ category, from $10.6 million to $12.8 million. While boosted wheat seed imports during the month prompted a more than $2 million spike in the ‘Food and Live Animals’ category, importation of ‘Manufactured Goods’ rose by approximately the same amount on account of more purchases of carton boxes, tyres and structures made of iron or steel. Additionally, significant imports of corn oil for the month resulted in a $1.6 million increase in the ‘Oils and Fats’ category.

On the other hand, imports of ‘Machinery and Transport Equipment’ fell by $3.6 million for the month, owing in large part to decreased purchases of four cylinder vehicles and liquid transformers. Goods meant for the ‘Export Processing Zones’ dropped from $5.1 million to $1.8 million, with gaming machines, electric generators and structures made of iron or steel being among the items in greatest decline.

EXPORTS

January 2017: The total value of Belize’s domestic exports for the month of January 2017 was $34.6 million, up 51.2 percent or $11.7 million from the $22.9 million recorded in January 2016.

Sugar was the chief contributor to the surge in export earnings at the commencement of 2017. Bulk shipments of sugar caused a $10.1 million dollar growth in sugar receipts, from $1.8 million to $11.9 million, as scheduling of bulk shipments differed from January 2016. Belize’s other major exports, banana, crude petroleum and marine products, also performed well in the first month of the year. Banana exports went up by a sizeable $3 million, from $4.8 million to $7.8 million, while crude petroleum sales benefited from the long anticipated upturn in the world market prices for that commodity. Revenues from crude petroleum grew by over 70 percent or $2.4 million, from $3.4 million to $5.8 million, although the volumes exported in January 2017 remained virtually unchanged from that of January 2016. Shrimp sales, supplemented by improved exports of lobster tails and conch, drove the marine category up from $2.5 million to $3.7 million.

In contrast, citrus was the only major export to experience decreased earnings in January 2017, falling from $3.5 million to $1.6 million, due to a drop in orange concentrate exports.


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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)