Consumer Price Index

Consumer Prices Up 0.7% in September 2017

ALL-ITEMS: During the month of September 2017 the All-Items Consumer Price Index stood at 104.4, a 0.7 percent increase from 103.7 in September of 2016 (see Figure 1). On average, Belizean households experienced a 0.7 percent increase in the cost of regularly purchased goods and services when compared to the same month of last year. For the first nine months of 2017, a year-to-date inflation rate of 1.2 percent was recorded.

TRANSPORT: The ‘Transport’ index remained the main contributor to the overall rise in consumer prices during the month, recording an average increase of 6.6 percent compared to September 2016. Higher international airfares coupled with the effects of last year’s increase in domestic bus fares contributed significantly to this rise in transport costs. In addition, prices within the ‘Fuels and Lubricants’ category saw a 5 percent increase, with prices rising across all fuel types. The price per gallon of Premium gasoline rose by 16 percent from $9.63 in September 2016 to $11.17 in September 2017, while Regular gasoline prices increased by 11 percent from $9.35 to $10.38, and the price per gallon of Diesel was up 15 percent from $8.18 to $9.40 (see Table 1).

HOUSING, WATER, ELECTRICITY, GAS AND OTHER FUELS: During the month of September 2017 home rental prices were 0.4 percent higher than they were in the same month of 2016. This was almost entirely attributable to an increase in rental prices in Dangriga, as virtually all other municipalities saw some decreases in rent compared to last September. Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG), which has been trending upward since the start of this year, recorded a 14.7 percent increase. The average cost of a 100-pound cylinder of LPG rose from $86.32 in September 2016 to $99.02 in September of 2017 (see Table 1). As a result, the ‘Housing, Water, Electricity, Gas and Other Fuels’ category saw an overall rise of 0.9 percent compared to the same month of 2016.

FOOD AND NON-ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES: An overall 1.1 percent decline in prices for the ‘Food and Non-Alcoholic Beverages’ category during the month was solely due to a decrease in ‘Food’ prices. Various food items, including ground beef, beef steak, pig tail, whole chickens, flour, eggs and milk recorded average price decreases for the month (see Table 1). Conversely, the ‘Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco’ category saw a 7 percent increase in comparison to September of 2016, as the average price of beer was up by 6.7 percent compared to September 2016, following the increase in excise tax earlier in the year.

INFLATION BY MUNICIPALITY: Across the seven municipalities where price collection was conducted, Dangriga continued to experience the highest rate of increase in consumer prices (see Figure 3). This municipality, which saw the most significant increase in home rental prices, recorded a 2.3 percent inflation rate. Orange Walk Town, where average rent prices were down compared to last September, recorded the lowest inflation rate at negative 0.8 percent, while Belmopan also recorded an overall decline in consumer prices of 0.2 percent.

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External Trade Bulletin

IMPORTS DOWN 7.2%, DOMESTIC EXPORTS UP 126.6% IN SEPTEMBER 2017

IMPORTS

September 2017: During the month of September 2017, Belize’s imported goods were valued at $144.5 million, down by 7.2 percent or $11.3 million from the $155.8 million imported in September of 2016. Imports declined across most categories during the month, with notable increases observed only in goods destined for the ‘Commercial Free Zones’ and in the importation of ‘Mineral Fuels and Lubricants’. Heightened purchases of footwear, clothing and perfumes led to an increase of more than one fourth in Commercial Free Zone imports, from $28.7 million in September 2016 to $36.3 million in September 2017, while greater imported quantities of diesel during the month prompted a $2 million spike in the ‘Mineral Fuels and Lubricants’ category, from $15 million to $17 million.


The ‘Machinery and Transport Equipment’ category saw the greatest decline compared to the same month of last year, recording a $5.8 million drop in imports, from $31.8 million to $26 million, due to reduced purchases of four-cylinder vehicles, diesel vehicles and fibre optic cables. Lowered imports of prefabricated steel buildings and laboratory equipment drove the importation of ‘Other Manufactures’ down by $4.6 million, from $16.1 million to $11.5 million, while decreased purchases of various food items caused a $3.3 million decrease in the ‘Food and Live Animals’ category, from $18 million in September 2016 to $14.7 million in the same month this year. The month also saw a notable reduction in the importation of ‘Chemical Products’, which fell by $2.3 million from $13.1 million to $10.9 million as a result of lower imports of fertilizers and insecticides. ‘Manufactured Goods’ saw a $1.9 million decline, from $21.3 million to $19.4 million, reflecting a drop in purchases of aluminium/zinc coils and steel rods. Importation of ‘Crude Materials’, most notably pine lumber, fell from $3 million to $1.5 million in September 2017, as the country purchased only half as much of this commodity as it did in September 2016.

FIRST NINE MONTHS OF THE YEAR: Merchandise imports for January to September 2017 amounted to $1.3 billion, representing a 6 percent or $85.3 million decrease from the same period last year.

For the nine-month period and similar to what was recorded for the month of September, imports fell across most commodity categories, with ‘Machinery and Transport Equipment’ and ‘Food and Live Animals’ being those experiencing the steepest declines. ‘Machinery and Transport Equipment’ fell by almost $80 million, from $350.5 million in 2016 to $270.5 million in 2017, owing largely to decreased purchases of telecommunication parts and four-cylinder vehicles, while diminished food imports, particularly coffee, lard (shortening) and soybean meal, led to the $16 million drop in the ‘Food and Live Animals’ category from $174 million to $158 million. However, on account of higher fuel prices on the world market, Belize spent $26.2 million more on ‘Mineral Fuels and Lubricants’ during the period, with that category

EXPORTS

September 2017: The total value of Belize’s domestic exports for the month of September 2017 was $48.5 million, this was more than twice that recorded for September 2016, which amounted to $21.4 million.

A shipment of bulk sugar for the month was the source of the significant jump in export earnings. Since no bulk sugar was exported during the same month of last year, earnings from the country’s top commodity saw a sharp jump, as export returns surged from $0.4 million in September 2016 to $28.5 million in September 2017. In addition, favourable banana sales resulted in a $2 million growth in earnings from that major export, as revenues increased for the month of September from $6 million in 2016 to $8 million in 2017 (see Figure 3).

In contrast, both citrus and marine exports fell noticeably in September 2017. Diminished sales across the citrus category, most notably orange concentrate and orange oil, led to the $1.6 million drop in earnings from citrus products, from $5.3 million in September 2016 to $3.7 million in the same month of this year. Meanwhile, the absence of shrimp exports for September 2017 was the main cause of a $1.4 million decline in marine export revenues, which fell from $3.7 million to $2.3 million (see Figure 3).

Although exports to the European Union (EU) for September 2017 stood at $37.5 million, a $28.1 million increase from $9.4 million in September 2016, exports to the United Kingdom (UK) fell from $5.2 million in September 2016 to $2.3 million in September 2017, while exports to the rest of the EU increased considerably by $30.9 million, from $4.3 million to $35.2 million. This increase resulted from the redirection of Belize’s bananas from the UK to the rest of the EU along with the EU being the recipient of Belize’s bulk sugar export for the month of September 2017. While export revenues from the United States dwindled from $5.8 million to $4.4 million as Belize sold less mahogany to that country than it did last September, exports to the CARICOM region dropped from $5 million to almost $4 million, due to reduced orange concentrate sales (see Figure 4).

FIRST NINE MONTHS OF THE YEAR: Merchandise exports for the period January to September 2017 totalled $375.9 million, up 9.7 percent or $33.3 million from the $342.6 million recorded for same period last year.

Sugar was the main contributor to the overall growth in exports over the nine month period, as earnings for that commodity surged by more than one third or $35.7 million, from $102.5 million to $138.2 million. Bananas and marine products also contributed positively to the spike in exports over this period. While banana sales went up from $56.2 million to $61.6 million, the marine category rose from $25.9 million to $27.4 million, owing to strong sales of lobster tails. Citrus products, on the other hand, saw export earnings decrease from $88.7 million to $71.9 million, as orange concentrate sales remained lower than they were for the January to September 2016 period. Earnings from crude petroleum exports remained nearly unchanged from 2016, with revenues of $16.9 million in 2016 and $16.5 million in 2017.


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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)