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
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
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).
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External Trade Bulletin
IMPORTS DOWN 2.6%, DOMESTIC EXPORTS DOWN 11.6% IN FEBRUARY 2018
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
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.
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.
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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.
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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)