For the last month on record, March 2018, the value of Belize's imports to Guatemala was substantially more than what is exported to that country. Although the trade deficit fell in March due to a decline in imports and an increase in exports, the deficit remains substantial.

Only 4% of the money Belize earns from exports is received from sales to Central America, and Guatemala continues to be one of the top trade partners for this sub-region. Guatemala's top buys from Belize are corn, orange and grapefruit concentrate, and it also purchases scrap steel from sellers here.

In terms of imports from Guatemala, Belize buys over 1,000 commodities, with construction cement, plastic bottles, and liquefied petroleum gas being among the top imports.

Imports for March were down from $11.2 million last year to $10.5 million this year. However, exports doubled from $0.7 million to $1.5 million for the month, according to the Statistical Institute of Belize (SIB).

Last year's data indicated that the trade deficit has been much larger - with Belize importing as much as 20 times that which it exports to Guatemala. Note that declining imports and increasing exports to Guatemala was also reported in 2017.

These figures do not fully capture cross-border trade which happens when Belizeans cross the border to shop in Melchor de Mencos.

By Adele Ramos, Freelance Journalist for The Reporter