Consumer Price Index

CONSUMER PRICES UP 2.3% IN MARCH

Figures released by the Statistical Institute of Belize show that the All-Items Consumer Price Index for March 2017 stood at 105.1, an increase from 102.8 in March 2016. On average, during this month in 2017, the prices of goods and services regularly purchased by Belizean households were 2.3 percent higher than they were in the same month of 2016 (See Figure 1). For the first three months of 2017, a year-to-date inflation rate of 1.8 percent was recorded.

As shown in Figure 1, prices within the ‘Transport’ category rose considerably by 18.3 percent from March 2016 to March 2017. This increase was the main contributor to the overall rise in prices among ‘All- Items’. Fuel and lubricant prices for the month of March 2017 were up by 12.7 percent from the same month in 2016. The highest increase among this sub-category was seen in the price per gallon of Premium gasoline, which rose from $8.27 in March of last year to $10.54 in March 2017 (See Table 1). Diesel was up 26.5 percent from $7.22 to $9.14, while Regular gasoline rose by 20.4 percent from $8.06 to $9.70. International airfares, which in March 2016 were down significantly, experienced a rebound in early 2017, further adding to the overall increase in ‘Transport’ prices.

The ‘Food and Non-Alcoholic Beverages’ category, on the other hand, recorded a 1.7 percent decrease in March 2017 when compared to March 2016, with this being primarily attributable to a fall in prices for several food items, including beef, poultry, and eggs (See Table 1). The ‘Housing, Water, Electricity, Gas and Other Fuels’ category recorded an overall increase of 0.9 percent for the month. Home rental prices were up by 0.5 percent, as consumers spent more on rent in Dangriga, Belmopan and San Ignacio/Santa Elena during March 2017 than they did in March 2016. Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) prices, which saw a spike in January this year, were 15 percent higher than they were in the same month last year, with the price of a 100-pound cylinder up from $83.88 in March of 2016 to $96.13 in March of this year (See Table 1).

On average, there was virtually no change across ‘All Other Categories of Goods and Services’, as a 7 percent decrease in insurance premiums was offset by a 3 percent increase in the sub-category of ‘Communication’.

Belmopan recorded the highest increase in consumer prices during the month, with an inflation rate of 3.6 percent, while Punta Gorda Town recorded the smallest at 0.9 percent. Belmopan, along with Dangriga, recorded the highest increases in home rental prices, while Punta Gorda Town experienced the largest decline in food prices.

Click here for the whole report!



External Trade Bulletin

IMPORTS DOWN 2.2%, DOMESTIC EXPORTS UP 35.5% IN MARCH

IMPORTS

March 2017: In March 2017, Belize imported goods valuing $155 million; this represented a 2.2 percent or $3.5 million decrease from the same month in 2016.

Imports to the ‘Commercial Free Zones’ dropped by almost a third, from $29.2 million to just about $20 million, with cigarettes, women’s clothing and storage bags being among the most reduced items. The ‘Food and Live Animals’ category fell by $4.2 million from the $21.3 million purchased for March 2016, owing largely to a plunge in wheat seed imports. For the third consecutive month in the year 2017, Belize’s largest import type, ‘Machinery and Transport Equipment’, saw a decline, with diminished purchases of items such as four cylinder vehicles, liquid transformers and telecommunications equipment causing the $4.1 million drop in this category. Goods destined for the ‘Export Processing Zones’ shrank from $6.9 million to roughly $4 million, as the month of March 2017 saw fewer imports of gaming machine parts, planer machines and refrigeration equipment.


Importation of ‘Mineral Fuels and Lubricants’, on the other hand, went up by two thirds or $7.6 million, primarily due to the fact that while no premium fuel was imported during March of 2016, purchases of this product totalled $3.8 million in March 2017. Additionally, a noticeable growth in imported laboratory plastics led to a $4.2 million increase in the ‘Other Manufactures’ category, from $10.9 million to $15.1 million. Belize also bought more ‘Manufactured Goods’ and ‘Crude Materials’ in March of 2017 than it did in March of 2016. Imports of the former grew by $3.5 million due to a rise in purchases of cement, iron doors and boxes, while increased imports of pine lumber resulted in a $1.1 million uptick in the latter.

FIRST THREE MONTHS OF THE YEAR: Merchandise imports for the first quarter of 2017 totalled $431.6 million, representing a 2.9 percent or $12.8 million decrease from the same period last year.

Lower imports in the categories of ‘Machinery and Transport Equipment’, ‘Commercial Free Zones’ and ‘Export Processing Zones’ contributed most significantly to this decline, with purchases for the three categories falling by a combined $36 million. This was partially offset by greater spending on other categories of goods, particularly ‘Mineral Fuels and Lubricants’ and ‘Manufactured Goods’, which together grew by $25.4 million.

EXPORTS

March 2017: The total value of Belize’s domestic exports for the month of March 2017 was $69.8 million, up 35.5 percent or $18.3 million from the $51.5 million recorded for March 2016.

With revenues rising $4.1 million to $30.5 million for the month of March 2017, sugar was the most significant export earner during the month. Banana exports, which have performed strongly since the start of the year, saw earnings up from $6.2 million in March 2016 to $8.1 million in March 2017. Crude petroleum also had an encouraging showing, adding $5.6 million to the month’s total exports. Meanwhile, marine exports rose by over a half million dollars in comparison to March of 2016, from $2.5 million to $3.1 million. This was mainly due to improved sales of lobster tails and conch. Exports of citrus products fell minimally, from approximately $11 million to $9.4 million, primarily the result of diminished grapefruit concentrate sales.

FIRST THREE MONTHS OF THE YEAR: Merchandise exports for the period January to March 2017 totalled $130.1 million, up 25.1 percent or $26.1 million from the same period last year.

A strong performance among four of Belize’s major commodities led to the substantial increase in export revenue during the first three months of the year. Sugar earnings went up considerably by $12.7 million to $44.1 million for the three-month period. Meanwhile, receipts from crude petroleum grew by a sizeable $8 million from $3.4 million in 2016 to $11.4 million 2017, due to better world market prices and an extra shipment of crude in the 2017 period. Banana exports jumped by more than 50 percent, with earnings rising from $15.3 million to $23.2 million for the period. Marine products also performed positively, as improved shrimp and conch exports prompted a $2.2 million revenue increase. Citrus exports, on the other hand, declined during the period, with earnings falling from $23.2 million in 2016 to $15.8 million in 2017, owing mostly to a drop in orange concentrate sales.

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.


Click here for the whole report!

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)