Consumer Price Index

Consumer Prices Down 0.5% in February 2018

ALL-ITEMS: For the month of February 2018, the Statistical Institute of Belize reported that the All-Items Consumer Price Index (CPI) stood at 104.5, a decrease from 105.1 in February 2017 (see Figure 1). For the first month since December of 2015, the average Belizean household experienced an overall drop in the cost of regularly purchased goods and services compared to the same month of the previous year, reflected in an inflation rate of negative 0.5 percent. Nonetheless, for the first two months of 2018, consumer prices were up slightly by 0.2 percent.

TRANSPORT: The ‘Transport’ category, which had seen prices steadily rising since August of 2016, experienced its first decline during the month, with prices within this category down by 4.7 percent in comparison to February of 2017. Although rising fuel prices have been a major contributor to the upward trend in ‘Transport’ prices during recent months, for the month of February 2018 this was offset by a sharp decline in international airfare prices. Within the ‘Fuel and Lubricants’ subcategory, the price per gallon of Premium gasoline rose 9.4 percent from $10.48 in February 2017 to $11.46 in February 2018, while Regular gasoline rose 5.9 percent from $9.71 to $10.29, and the price per gallon of Diesel was up 11.1 percent from $9.11 to $10.12 (see Table 1).

FOOD AND NON-ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES: For the category of ‘Food and Non-Alcoholic Beverages’, prices were down by 0.4 percent compared to February 2016. This overall decrease for the category was attributable mostly to a fall in ‘Food’ prices, which declined by 0.5 percent on average. Items which saw lower prices for the month compared to February of last year included ground beef, beef steak, whole chicken and pigtail, along with a few vegetable and milk products (see Table 1). Within the ‘Non-Alcoholic Beverages’ subcategory, prices fell marginally by 0.1 percent, as a result of a decline in the average price of tea.

HOUSING, WATER, ELECTRICITY, GAS & OTHER FUELS: Prices within the ‘Housing, Water, Electricity, Gas and Other Fuels’ category rose by 0.5 percent for the month of February 2018. This was due to a 0.2 percent increase in home rental costs, coupled with a 12.1 percent rise in the cost of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) for the month. The average cost of a 100-pound cylinder of LPG rose from $92.35 in February 2017 to $103.53 in February of 2018 (see Table 1).

ALL OTHER CATEGORIES OF GOODS AND SERVICES: A marginal increase of 0.2 percent for prices within ‘All Other Categories Of Goods And Services’ was attributed almost entirely to higher prices for ‘Alcoholic Beverages’. This reflected a 7.1 percent rise in the average price of beer as a result of last year’s increase in excise tax

INFLATION BY MUNICIPALITY: Across the municipalities, Punta Gorda Town continued to report the highest rate of increase in consumer prices. With a 0.6 percent rise in the cost of goods and services, this town saw the highest increase in ‘Food and Non-Alcoholic Beverages’ and was the only municipality reporting an overall rise in consumer prices for the month. On the other hand, the twin towns of San Ignacio/Santa Elena reported the most significant decrease in consumer prices, with an inflation rate of negative 1.6 percent. This was mainly due to higher than average decreases in home rental and food costs in comparison to February of 2016 (see Figure 3).

Click here for the whole report!



External Trade Bulletin

IMPORTS DOWN 2.6%, DOMESTIC EXPORTS DOWN 11.6% IN FEBRUARY 2018

IMPORTS

FEBRUARY 2018:For the month of February 2018, Belize imported goods valuing $136.8 million. This represented a 2.6 percent or $3.7 million decrease from the same month in 2017, when imports totalled over $140.4 million.

This overall decline was largely caused by a drop in the imported quantities across all types of fuels.


As a result, the ‘Mineral Fuels and Lubricants’ category saw the most significant decrease for the month, with that category falling by a substantial $5.1 million, from $22.6 million in February 2017 to $17.5 million in February 2018. Also contributing to the drop in total imports for the month was reduced importation of ‘Manufactured Goods’, which fell by $2.2 million, from $19.6 million to $17.4 million, owing to decreased imports of items such as aluminium-zinc coils, bottles, and nuts and bolts. Purchases of ‘Chemical Products’ were down by $1.6 million, from $12.2 million during last February to $10.6 million in February of this year, with notable drops recorded in the importation of fertilizers, antibiotics and plastic pipes.

On the other hand, goods destined for the ‘Commercial Free Zones’ and the ‘Export Processing Zones’, as well as imports of ‘Food and Live Animals’, all rose in February of this year when compared to same month last year. Imports destined for the ‘Commercial Free Zones grew by $2.1 million, from $21.1 million to $23.2 million, due to increased purchases of clothing and footwear, while goods meant for the ‘Export Processing Zones’ went up by $1.7 million, from $2.1 million to $3.8 million, due to greater purchases of rubber hoses, air conditioning units and grinder machines.

FIRST TWO MONTHS OF THE YEAR: Merchandise imports for the two months January to February 2018 amounted $280.9 million, representing a 1.6 percent or $4.3 million increase over the $276.6 million recorded for the same period last year.

The first two months of the year saw notable increases across four categories, including ‘Machinery and Transport Equipment’, ‘Export Processing Zones’, ‘Mineral Fuels and Lubricants’ and ‘Food and Live Animals’. The ‘Machinery and Transport Equipment’ category recorded the largest growth of the four, rising from $57.6 million in 2017 to $63.3 million in 2018, as a result of heightened purchases of tractors, telecommunications equipment, aircraft engines and ploughs. Imports into the ‘Export Processing Zones’ went up from nearly $4 million to $7.9 million, due to increased purchases of rubber hoses, extension cords, computer components and air conditioning units. Greater imported quantities of Premium fuel, were largely responsible for a $3 million increase in the ‘Mineral Fuels and Lubricants’ category, from $35.1 million during the first two months of 2017 to $38.1 million during the same period of 2018, while increased purchases of lard (shortening), wheat and powdered milk drove the ‘Food and Live Animals’ category up from $34.2 million to $36.4 million.

Notwithstanding these increases, there were marked decreases across some commodity categories over the period, the largest of which was observed in ‘Manufactured Goods’. This category fell by $4.1 million, from $39.2 million in 2017 to $35.1 million in 2018, as the country bought less aluminium-zinc coils, glass bottles, structures of iron or steel, as well as nuts and bolts. Additionally, importation of ‘Chemical Products’ fell from $23.9 million for the first two months of 2017 to just above $22 million in 2018, the result of fewer purchases of fertilizers, antibiotics and plastic pipes, while imports in the ‘Other Manufactures’ category declined from $23.4 million to almost $22 million, due to reduced purchases of laboratory plastics and prefabricated buildings. Goods meant for the ‘Commercial Free Zones’ decreased minimally from $44.1 million in 2017 to $42.8 million in 2018, owing mostly to smaller imports of cigarettes and packaged foods.



EXPORTS

FEBRUARY 2018:: The total value of Belize’s domestic exports for the month of February 2018 was $22.8 million, down 11.6 percent or nearly $3 million from the $25.8 million recorded for February 2017.

The considerable decline in total export earnings was primarily due to reduced exports of both bananas and marine products during the month. Sales of bananas fell by $2 million, from $7.2 million in February of 2017 to $5.2 million in February 2018, while marine exports dropped by $1.5 million, from $4.7 million to $3.2 million, largely owing to dwindling shrimp sales. Citrus exports, diminished slightly, from $6.1 million in February 2017 to $6 million in February 2018, notwithstanding a small gain of $0.8 million in orange concentrate sales, as reductions were recorded in grapefruit concentrate and orange oil exports for the month. Sugar was the only major export to have recorded substantial growth during the month, as earnings from that commodity more than doubled from $1.7 million in February 2017 to $3.5 million in the same month this year.

Exports to the United Kingdom fell by one-fourth or $2.2 million, from $8.9 million to $6.7 million, owing in part to a drop in banana sales, but due mostly to the fact that no shrimp was exported to that country in February of this year. Earnings from domestic exports to the United States declined by over a third or $2.1 million, from $6.2 million in February 2017 to $4.1 million in February 2018, as there were no exports of lime and orange oils to that country for the month. Conch and orange concentrate exports to the US also declined, with orange concentrate expanding to other markets in February of 2018. Mexico, on the other hand, saw an increase in the amount of Belize’s exports which it received for the month of February, growing from $0.01 million in 2017 to $1.1 million in 2018, due almost entirely to sales of lobster tail, a product which was not exported to Mexico during last February.

FIRST TWO MONTHS OF THE YEAR: Merchandise exports for the period January to February 2018 totalled $48.5 million, down 19.6 percent or $11.8 million from the $60.3 million recorded during same period last year.

Sizeable reductions in three of Belize’s major exports, namely sugar, bananas and marine products, led to the overall downturn in export revenues over the two month period. Earnings from sugar fell by $7.5 million, from $13.6 million in 2017 to $6.1 million in 2018, owing solely to the timing of shipments of bulk sugar. While sugar sales for the period January to February 2017 included a bulk shipment of significant value, the first shipment of bulk sugar for 2018, is not scheduled to be exported until March. Likewise, banana exports fell considerably by 31 percent or $4.7 million, from over $15 million in the first two months of last year to $10.3 million in the same period of 2018, as heavy rains at the start of this year greatly affected that commodity. Exports of marine products declined from $8.4 million to $5.2 million, due mostly to lessened shrimp sales in the first two months of the year compared with the first two months of 2017.

On the other hand, exports from citrus products for the period January to February 2018 exceeded that of the same period last year, as earnings rose by $1.8 million, from $8.1 million in 2017 to $9.9 million in 2018, due to largely to increased orange concentrate exports, coupled with strong sales of grapefruit concentrate and grapefruit oil. Additionally, due to favourable world market prices for crude petroleum, revenues for that commodity grew by a third, from $5.8 million to $7.7 million, despite having almost no change in the exported volumes over the two month period.


Click here for the whole report!

ECONOMY GROWS 2.8% IN THE FOURTH QUARTER 2017: INCREASES RECORDED ACROSS ALL THREE SECTORS

For the three months October to December 2017, the total level of economic activity in the country of Belize increased by 2.8 percent. The Statistical Institute of Belize estimates that the total value of goods and services produced during this period was $695.8 million, an increase of $19.1 million from $676.7 million produced in the fourth quarter of 2016 (see Figure 1). All three sectors of the economy recorded increases, with the secondary sector experiencing the highest rate of growth at 5.1 percent, followed by the tertiary sector at 3.1 percent. The primary sector was almost unchanged during the period, growing by a marginal 0.1 percent (see Figure 2).

PRIMARY ACTIVITIES: The minimal 0.1 percent overall rate of growth experienced by the primary sector during the fourth quarter was the result of positive performances in the major agricultural industries. The banana industry recorded an increase of 12.7 percent for the last three months of 2017, with shipments increasing from 17.6 thousand metric tons to 19.8 thousand metric tons as the industry recovered from the effects of Hurricane Earl in August 2016 (see Figure 3). Sugarcane deliveries saw an increase of 1.9 percent due to a good crop season in the northern part of the country. Citrus, which was also impacted by Hurricane Earl, saw the crop season being pushed back during 2017. As a result production during the fourth quarter of the year rose sharply by 186 percent compared to the fourth quarter of 2016. Similarly, livestock production expanded by almost 9 percent, largely due to a 14.4 percent growth in poultry production in response to increased demand. However, notwithstanding these increases in the agricultural industries, growth in the primary sector was hampered by a significant decline of 35.3 percent in the fishing industry, as the shrimp industry continued to struggle.

SECONDARY ACTIVITIES: The secondary sector, which accounts for almost one fifth of the country’s economic activity, grew by 5.1 percent during the final quarter of 2017. This was largely due to a strong performance in the “Electricity and Water” subsector. High water levels in the country’s dams coupled with an increase in demand resulted in a 20.6 percent jump in electricity generation from 86 thousand megawatt hours in the fourth quarter of 2016 to 103.7 megawatt hours in the fourth quarter of 2017. Water generation also continued its steady growth, rising by 1.6 percent from 599.8 million gallons to 609.3 million gallons, due to an increase in demand (see Figure 4). With the spike in citrus fruit deliveries during the quarter, citrus concentrate production also surged, rising more than 400 percent in comparison to the same period of the previous year. Sugar production also saw some growth, increasing by 12.2 percent for the fourth quarter of 2017.

“Manufacturing and Mining” activities, on the other hand, recorded a decline of 3.5 percent when compared to the fourth quarter of 2016. Reduced beverage production was a major contributor to this decline. Beer production was down by 6.4 percent from 670 thousand gallons in the final quarter of 2016 to 627 thousand gallons for the same period of 2017, in response to lowered demand following last year’s increase in excise duty. Meanwhile, soft drink production decreased by 5.8 percent from 1,748 thousand gallons to 1,647 thousand gallons due to heightened competition from imported soft drink products. Crude petroleum extraction declined by 23.7 percent, as reserves continue to be steadily depleted.

TERTIARY ACTIVITIES: The services sector, which accounts for more than half of the country’s total economy, grew by 3.1 percent during the fourth quarter 2017 when compared to the same period of 2016. The “Hotel and Restaurant” subsector grew by 6.8 percent, despite a 5.6 percent reduction in cruise passengers due to fewer cruise ship calls in the month of December. With the increase in the number of direct routes to Belize, overnight visitors rose by 17.6 percent for the fourth quarter of 2017 (see Figure 5), the most notable growth being seen among visitors from the United States, Europe and Canada. “Wholesale and Retail Trade” recorded an increase of 1.6 percent, as evidenced by expanded exports during the period, while “Government Services” rose by 3.8 percent.

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)