Consumer Price Index
Consumer Prices Down 0.6% in March 2018
ALL-ITEMS: For the month of March 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 March 2017 (see Figure 1). The
average Belizean household, therefore, experienced an overall drop
of 0.6 percent in the cost of regularly purchased goods and services.
For the first three months of the year 2018, the country saw a year-todate
inflation rate of negative 0.1 percent, when compared to the same
three-month period of last year.
FOOD & NON-ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES and ALCOHOLIC
BEVERAGES: Within the ‘Food and
Non-Alcoholic Beverages’ category, the downward trend observed
over most of the past year continued during the month of March 2018
(see Figure 1), with prices within this category falling by 0.4 percent on
average. ‘Food’ prices were primarily responsible for the slight decline
in this category, recording a 0.5 percent decrease during the month. A
few meat products, namely ground beef, pork chops and pigtail, saw
lower prices when compared to the same month in 2017, as did other
food items such as onions, sweet peppers and milk (see Table 1). A
marginal decline of 0.2 percent in the ‘Non-Alcoholic Beverages’ subcategory,
the result of lower prices for tea, further contributed to the
overall decline of this category.
TRANSPORT: The ‘Transport’ category recorded a 5 percent decrease
for the month of March 2018 in comparison to March 2017, as a
sharp decline in international airfares, first observed earlier this year,
continued to offset rising fuel costs. Within ‘Fuels and Lubricants’, the
price per gallon of Premium gasoline rose 7.6 percent from $10.54 in
March 2017 to $11.35 in March 2018, Regular gasoline rose 6 percent
from $9.70 to $10.28, and the price per gallon of Diesel was up 9.6
percent from $9.14 to $10.02 (see Table 1).
HOUSING, WATER, ELECTRICITY, GAS AND OTHER FUELS: During
the month, home rental costs were up slightly by 0.2 percent over
March 2017. In addition, Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) prices rose
by almost 10 percent compared to last March, resulting in an overall
increase of 0.5 percent within this category. The average cost of a
100-pound cylinder of LPG rose from $96.13 in March 2017 to $105.51
in March of 2018. (see Table 1).
ALL OTHER CATEGORIES OF GOODS AND SERVICES:Across
‘All Other Categories of Goods and Services’, an overall increase of 0.2
percent was recorded. This was attributed to higher doctor consultation
fees combined with a rise in
the ‘Alcoholic Beverages, and
Tobacco’ category, as last
year’s increase in excise tax
continued to be reflected in
higher prices for beer.
INFLATION BY MUNICIPALITY: Punta Gorda Town was the
only municipality to report
an increase in consumer
prices during the month. This
municipality’s inflation rate
of 0.6 percent was due to
increases in prices for food
items and LPG that were
higher than those recorded
for the other municipalities.
San Ignacio/Santa Elena once
again reported a significant
decrease in consumer prices,
with an inflation rate of
negative 1.9 percent, mainly
due to noticeable decreases
in home rental and food costs
(see Figure 3).
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External Trade Bulletin
IMPORTS DOWN 3.9%, DOMESTIC EXPORTS DOWN 18.5% IN MARCH 2018
March 2018: During the month of March 2018, Belize’s imported
goods were valued at $148.9 million, down by 3.9 percent or $6.1
million from the more than $155 million imported in March of 2017.
The third month of the year saw decreased imports across most of
the commodity categories, most significantly in the importation of
‘Manufactured Goods’, ‘Machinery and Transport Equipment’ and
‘Chemical Products’. Importation of ‘Manufactured Goods’ recorded
the largest drop for the month, falling by 29 percent or $6.6 million,
from $22.9 million in March 2017 to $16.3 million in March 2018, with
goods such as cement, metal doors and carton boxes being among
the reduced items. As a result of fewer purchases of harvesters,
refrigerators and aircraft engines, the ‘Machinery and Transport
Equipment’ category saw imports contracting from $32.9 million to
$28.4 million for the month, while the ‘Chemical Products’ category
declined from $15.2 million to $11.8 million due to decreased
purchases of fertilizers, sealants and painkillers. Additionally,
importation of ‘Food and Live Animals’, ‘Crude Materials’ and
‘Beverages and Tobacco’ were also down in March of this year when
compared to the same month last year. The ‘Food and Live Animals’
category dropped by $1.6 million, from $17.1 million to $15.5 million,
as importation shrank for an assortment of food items, including
noodle soups and baby formulas. For the month, importation of
‘Crude Materials’ and ‘Beverages and Tobacco’ each declined by
approximately one-third. The former category, which fell from $4.3
million to $2.9 million, saw reduced imports of grass seeds, pine
lumber and asphalt, while the latter, recording a decrease from $3.1
million to $2.1 million, experienced a drop in imported beer, liquor
The ‘Mineral Fuels and Lubricants’ category, on the other hand,
went up by $6 million, growing from $19 million in March 2017 to
$25 million in March 2018, owing to higher international prices and
greater quantities of imported diesel, kerosene and premium fuels.
Goods destined for the ‘Commercial Free Zones’ rose by $3.4
million for the month, from $19.9 million to $23.3 million, as imports
of bags, clothing and footwear increased in comparison to March of
last year. Heightened imports of laboratory plastics, metal chairs and
light fixtures led to a $1.9 million uptick in the ‘Other Manufactures’
category, from $15.1 million in March of 2017 to nearly $17 million in
March 2018, while purchases of mechanical parts, food preparation
machines and machinery for cleaning resulted in a growth in imports
to Belize’s ‘Export Processing Zones’, from almost $4 million to $5.1
FIRST THREE MONTHS OF THE YEAR:Merchandise imports for
the first three months of the year, January to March 2018, amounted
to $429.9 million, representing a 0.4 percent or $1.8 million decrease
from the same period last year.
Notwithstanding this negligible decrease in overall imports, individual
commodity categories saw marked changes over the period. ‘Manufactured Goods’ fell most significantly, by $10.7 million from $62.1 million in
2017 to $51.4 million in 2018, as a result of decreased imports of aluminium/zinc coils, cement and carton boxes. Sizeable reductions were also
noted in the categories of ‘Chemical Products, which fell by $5.2 million from $39.1 million in 2017 to $33.9 million in 2018 due to lessened imports
of fertilizers, medicines and PVC pipes, and ‘Crude Materials’, which dropped by more than $2 million from $9.1 million to $7 million, owing to
diminished imports of grass seeds, asphalt and utility poles.
In contrast, due largely to the higher world market prices for fuel, imports within the ‘Mineral Fuels and Lubricants’ category rose from $54.1
million to $63.2 million over the period. Imports into the ‘Export Processing Zones’ also increased markedly over the three-month period, growing
by 63 percent from nearly $8 million in 2017 to $12.9 million in 2018, attributable to greater purchases of mechanical parts, rubber hoses and
food preparation machines. Goods to the ‘Commercial Free Zones’ went up from $64 million to $66 million, due to greater imports of bags
and clothing. Additionally, imports of ‘Machinery and Transport Equipment’ increased negligibly from $90.4 million to $91.8 million, with tractors,
telecommunications equipment and ploughs being among the top purchases during the period.
MARCH 2018: The total value of Belize’s domestic exports for the month of March 2018 was $56.9 million, down 18.5 percent or $12.9
million from that recorded for March 2017, when a total of $69.8 million was exported.
This substantial decline was the result of decreased export earnings across all of Belize’s major commodities. Crude petroleum experienced
the most significant drop for the month, as there were no exports recorded for that commodity, compared to revenues of $5.6 million during
March of last year. Earnings from exports of citrus products fell by $2.8 million, from $12.4 million in March 2017 to $9.6 million in March
2018, due to a drop in orange concentrate exports as well as orange oil, with these commodities each falling by $1.6 million during the
month. Furthermore, banana exports were down by one-fourth, from $8.1 million in March 2017 to $6.1 million in March 2018. The marine
category declined by $0.7 million, from $3.1 million to $2.4 million, as exports of all marine products fell, except for shrimp, which was up by
a marginal $0.2 million compared to the same month last year. Despite a 43 percent increase in the exported volumes of sugar, revenues for
that commodity remained virtually unchanged, as world market prices for bulk sugar were noticeably less in March of this year, as compared
to March of last year. Nevertheless, sugar exports remained strong at $30.4 million, with that commodity accounting for more than half of
total export earnings for the month.
Exports to the CARICOM region plunged by $5.5 million, from $11.7 million to $6.2 million, as no crude petroleum was exported in March
of this year. Earnings from exports to the United States of America fell by $2.3 million, from $10.4 million to $8.1 million, owing to reduced
sales of molasses and orange oil. Revenues from exports to the United Kingdom declined from $36.2 million to $33.4 million, due mostly to
diminished sales of bananas, while decreased sales of orange concentrate led to a drop in earnings from the rest of the European Union,
from $6.1 million in March 2017 to nearly $5 million in March 2018.
FIRST THREE MONTHS OF THE YEAR: Merchandise exports for the period January to March 2018 totalled $105.4 million, down 19
percent or $24.7 million from the $130.1 million recorded for the same period last year.
The first three months of the year saw decreased earnings for all major exports. Revenues from sugar fell by 17 percent or $7.6 million,
from $44.1 million in 2017 to $36.5 million in 2018, in spite of a 4 percent increase in exported volumes, as lower prices for bulk sugar
greatly affected the returns for that commodity. Banana exports declined by 29 percent, from $23.2 million to $16.4 million, while earnings
from marine products dropped by one-third, from $11.4 million to $7.6 million, due almost entirely to diminished shrimp exports. Although
exported volumes of crude petroleum for January to March 2018 were half what they were for that same period last year, prices for that
product remained favourable on the world market and revenues saw a less substantial decline of one-third. Exports of citrus products fell
slightly, from $20.5 million to $19.4 million, owing mostly to reduced orange oil sales during the period.
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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)