Consumer Price Index

Consumer Prices up 0.9% in November 2017

ALL-ITEMS: The Statistical Institute of Belize’s latest figures on consumer prices revealed that, for the month of November 2017, Belizean households experienced an average increase of 0.9 percent in the cost of regularly purchased goods and services. The All-Items Consumer Price Index for the month stood at 105.2, an increase from 104.2 in November of 2016 (see Figure 1). For the first eleven months of the year, a year-to-date inflation rate of 1.2 percent was recorded.

TRANSPORT: The ‘Transport’ category saw prices rise by 6.3 percent on average during the month (see Figure 2). This was attributed primarily to increases in international airfares and prices within the ‘Fuels and Lubricants’ sub-category. The price per gallon of Premium gasoline rose 19 percent from $10.11 in November 2016 to $12.02 in November 2017, while Regular gasoline rose 7.2 percent from $9.55 per gallon to $10.23 per gallon, and the price per gallon of Diesel was up 8 percent from $8.90 to $9.61 (see Table 1). In addition, domestic bus fares were 4.5 percent higher than they were in the same month of 2016, putting further upward pressure on the overall ‘Transport’ category.

FOOD & NON-ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES and ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES & TOBACCO: A marginal decline in ‘Food’ prices when compared to November of 2016 was the main contributor to a 0.6 percent decrease in the ‘Food and Non-Alcoholic Beverages’ category during November 2017 (see Figure 2). Among the items which saw lower prices for the month were several meat products, namely beef steak, pork chops, pig tail and whole chickens, along with other food items such as eggs and milk (see Table1). The ‘Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco’ category, on the other hand, reported a 7.1 percent increase, reflecting higher beer prices as a result of the increase in excise taxes earlier in this year.

HOUSING, WATER, ELECTRICITY, GAS & OTHER FUELS: Prices within the ‘Housing, Water, Electricity, Gas and Other Fuels’ category saw a 0.9 percent increase overall when compared to November 2016. This was due to a 0.4 percent rise in home rental costs, particularly in Belize City and Corozal Town, coupled with a 16.5 percent increase in the average price of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG), as the average cost of a 100-pound cylinder of LPG rose from $85.90 in November 2016 to $99.40 in November 2017 (see Table 1).

INFLATION BY MUNICIPALITY: Across the various municipalities, Punta Gorda Town saw the highest overall increase in consumer prices, with an inflation rate of 1.9 percent (see Figure 3). This municipality recorded increases that were well above the national averages in several categories, including ‘Food and Non-Alcoholic Beverages’ and ‘Furnishing, Household Equipment, and Routine Household Maintenance’. Orange Walk Town, on the other hand, saw prices decreasing considerably across categories such as ‘Clothing and Footwear’ and ‘Recreation and Culture’, and as a result experienced the lowest rate of inflation for the month at negative 0.1 percent.

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External Trade Bulletin

IMPORTS AND EXPORTS BOTH DOWN IN NOVEMBER 2017

IMPORTS

NOVEMBER 2017: Belize’s total imports for the month of November 2017 were valued at $154.5 million. This was a decrease of 7.7 percent or $12.8 million from imports for November 2016, which totaled $167.3 million.

The ‘Machinery and Transport Equipment’ category saw the largest drop for the month, falling by $6.1 million to $33.8 million, as a result of reduced purchases of computer components coupled with the fact that, in November of last year, imports for this category included a one-time purchase of dredging equipment. Furthermore, there was no diesel fuel imported for the month of November 2017 and, as a result, the ‘Mineral Fuels and Lubricants’ category declined from $16.9 million in November of last year to $13.1 million in the same month of 2017. The category of ‘Other Manufactures’ also saw a notable reduction for the month from $16.6 million in November 2016 to $14.2 million in November 2017, due to a fall in imports of gold jewelry, plastic laboratory items, and assorted toys. ‘Chemical Products’ similarly declined from $17.2 million to $14.7 million as a result of decreased purchases of paints, vaccines and insect repellants. Imports of ‘Food and Live Animals’ fell by $1.6 million compared to November of last year, from $20.2 million to $18.6 million, due mostly to the fact that no malt or turkeys were imported into the country in November 2017. Diminished imports of cigarettes, beer and soft drinks resulted in a $1.5 million decline in the ‘Beverages and Tobacco’ category, from $3.8 million in November of 2016 to $2.3 million in November 2017.

The only notable increase for the month was seen in imports of goods destined for the ‘Commercial Free Zones’. This category rose by $4.5 million, from $25.7 million to $30.2 million, as the country imported more tennis shoes, sweaters and handbags in November of 2017 compared to the same month of last year.


FIRST ELEVEN MONTHS OF THE YEAR: Merchandise imports for the eleven months January to November 2017 totaled $1.7 billion, representing a 4.5 percent or $77.4 million decrease from the same period last year.

Imports fell markedly across four categories over the period. This included ‘Machinery and Transport Equipment’, ‘Other Manufactures’, ‘Food and Live Animals’ and ‘Export Processing Zones, which together dropped by almost $120 million for the eleven-month period. On the other hand, despite reductions in the quantities imported, higher world market prices for all types of fuels resulted in a $25.4 million growth in imports of ‘Mineral Fuels and Lubricants’, from $169.1 million in 2016 to $194.5 million in 2017, the most significant increase recorded for the period.

EXPORTS

NOVEMBER 2017: Total domestic exports for November 2017 amounted to $16.9 million, down 11.4 percent or $2.2 million when compared to the $19.1 million recorded for November 2016. This decrease in export revenues was primarily attributable to reduced sales of black-eyed peas for the month, as earnings from that commodity fell sharply from $1.8 million in November 2016 to $0.3 million in November 2017.

Earnings from Belize’s major commodities saw only relatively small changes during November 2017 when compared to the same month of last year. Marine exports declined slightly by $0.4 million to $5.2 million, despite a steep drop in shrimp sales, as strong sales of lobster meat largely offset this loss. Citrus exports similarly saw a marginal decrease of $0.1 million, from $3.3 million in November 2016 to $3.2 million in November of 2017, mostly due to decreased grapefruit concentrate sales. The only major export to have recorded an increase was bananas, with earnings for that product rising by $0.6 million, from $4.4 million in November of last year to $5 million in November 2017.

Exports to the CARICOM region declined by $0.9 million for the month, from $4.6 million in 2016 to $3.7 million in 2017, as there were no sales of either lobster tails or red kidney beans to that region in November of this year. Diminished sales of shrimp for the month led to reduced export earnings from both the United States of America, which fell from $5 million in November 2016 to $4.5 million in the same month this year, and the United Kingdom, which declined from $4.4 million to $4 million. Exports to Central America, on the other hand, more than doubled in comparison to last November, growing from just under $0.6 million to $1.2 million for the month, as a result of sales of corn gluten, a product for which there were no exports last November, to that region.

FIRST ELEVEN MONTHS OF THE YEAR: Merchandise exports for the period January to November 2017 totaled $429.9 million, up 12 percent or $45.9 million from almost $384 million recorded for same period last year.

Two of Belize’s major export commodities saw substantial increases over the eleven-month period. Sugar, which accounted for more than a third of the country’s export earnings, grew by $45.2 million over the period, from $102.6 million in 2016 to $147.8 million in 2017, while revenues from bananas rose by 16.5 percent or $10.7 million, from $64.8 million to $75.5 million. There was very little change in earnings received from sales of marine products, which grew by $0.6 million from $36.3 million during the first eleven months of 2016 to $36.9 million in the same period of 2017. Likewise, crude petroleum rose only marginally from $22.5 million in 2016 to $22.7 million in 2017. Revenues from citrus products, on the other hand, fell by a considerable $18 million during the period, from $96.4 million in 2016 to $78.4 million in 2017.


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September 2017, Labor Force Survey

UNEMPLOYMENT FALLS TO 9.7% IN SEPTEMBER 2017: ALMOST 5,700 MORE PERSONS EMPLOYED

Unemployment Rate: The Statistical Institute of Belize’s preliminary results from its September 2017 Labour Force Survey indicated that the national unemployment rate for that month was 9.7 percent, a decline of 1.4 percentage points from 11.1 percent in September 2016. This fall in the unemployment rate can be attributed for the most part to an increase in the number of employed persons for the period, particularly urban females. Unemployment in the country’s urban areas fell by 3.2 percentage points, from 12.3 percent in September 2016 to 9.1 in September 2017, while rural areas saw a slight increase in the rate of unemployment from 9.9 percent in September of last year to 10.2 percent for this September. The rate of joblessness among males inched up from 6.9 percent to 7.1 percent, while it fell by a full 4 percentage points among females from 17.6 percent to 13.6 percent (see Figure 1).

Across the districts, Cayo recorded the highest unemployment rate of 13 percent in September 2017, while Toledo had the lowest at 6.5 percent (see Figure 2). Compared to September 2016, the Orange Walk, Cayo and Toledo districts all recorded a rise in the level of unemployment. Noteworthy is that the unemployment rate in the Toledo district, which has consistently seen the lowest rates of joblessness in the country, has almost doubled since September 2016 due to a net loss of about 700 jobs across several industries. On the other hand, Corozal, Belize and Stann Creek each saw a decrease in the rate of unemployment. The Stann Creek district recorded the largest decline in its unemployment rate, from 17.7 percent in September 2016 to 8.7 percent a year later

Labour Force: In September 2017, there were approximately 166,049 persons in Belize’s labour force, an increase of 3,795 persons since September 2016, when the total number of persons in the labour force stood at 162,254. New entrants into the labour force for this period were primarily from the country’s urban areas and almost two-thirds of new entrants were females. Nonetheless, males continue to comprise the majority of the country’s labour force, accounting for 60 percent while only 40 percent were females. Men continue to be more likely to be a part of the work force, whether working or looking for work, with more than three fourths of working age males participating in the labour force, compared to just about one half of working aged females.

Unemployed: The total number of employed persons in September 2017 was estimated to be 149,994. This represented a net increase of almost 5,700 persons since September 2016 when the number of persons holding jobs stood at 144,302. Most of these newly employed persons were seen in the ‘Professionals’ and ‘Technician and Associate Professionals’ categories. Females experienced the largest gains in employment, with 4 out of every 5 newly employed persons being women.

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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)