Consumer Price Index

Consumer Prices Down Slightly by 0.02% in November 2018

ALL-ITEMS: For the month of November 2018, the Statistical Institute of Belize reported that the All-Items Consumer Price Index (CPI) stood at 105.13, an almost imperceptible decrease of 0.02 percent from 105.15 in November 2017 (see Figure 1). On average, Belizean households experienced a 0.02 percent decrease in the cost of regularly purchased goods and services, as higher prices for home rentals, doctor consultations, and Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) were balanced out by lower transport costs when compared to last November. For the first eleven months of the year, the cumulative inflation rate stood at 0.3 percent.

HOUSING, WATER, ELECTRICITY, GAS AND OTHER FUELS: Prices within the ‘Housing, Water, Electricity, Gas and Other Fuels’ category saw an overall increase of 1.6 percent for the month of November 2018. This was due to a 1.1 percent rise in home rental costs, with higher prices being observed in the municipalities of Orange Walk, Punta Gorda, and San Ignacio/Santa Elena when compared to November 2017. In addition, LPG prices were up by 16.6 percent, as the average cost of a 100-pound cylinder rose by almost $17, from $99.36 in November 2017 to $115.81 in November 2018 (see Table 1). Also contributing to the increase in prices for this category were electricity tariffs, which were 6.4 percent higher than they were in November 2017, due to a tariff increase that went into effect earlier this year.

TRANSPORT: With prices down by 4.5 percent when compared to November 2017, ‘Transport’ was the main category exerting downward pressure on consumer prices during the month. Although rising fuel prices have been a major contributor to the upwards trend in this category during most of the year, for the month of November 2018 these were offset by a significant decline in international airfares. Nonetheless, within the ‘Fuels and Lubricants’ sub-category, the price per gallon of Diesel went up by 16.5 percent from $9.61 in November 2017 to $11.20 in November 2018, while Regular gasoline rose by 5.4 percent from $10.23 to $10.78. Premium gasoline, on the other hand, fell by 3.4 percent from $12.02 in November of last year to $11.62 in November of 2018 (see Table 1). Also contributing to the overall decline in prices within this category was the cost of new motor vehicles which was down by 4.9 percent when compared to November 2017.

FOOD & NON-ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES and ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES: A small overall decline of 0.6 percent was seen in the ‘Food and Non-Alcoholic Beverages’ category, when compared to November 2017. Lower prices were recorded for several meat products, such as beef steak and ground beef, along with some vegetable and fruit items, including red kidney beans, sweet peppers, potatoes and limes. These decreases were, however, mostly offset by increased prices in various other food items, such as pork chops, pig tails, pineapples, cabbages and watermelons (see Table 1).

ALL OTHER GOODS AND SERVICES: Across all the remaining categories of goods and services, prices increased on average by 0.9 percent in November 2018 compared to November 2017. This was due mainly to an increase of 4.2 percent in the ‘Health’ category, which saw higher prices for doctor consultations, surgery fees and pharmaceutical products during the month.

INFLATION RATES BY MUNICIPALITIES: With an inflation rate of 1.9 percent, Punta Gorda Town experienced the highest rate of increase in consumer prices in November 2018. Consumers in this town saw above average increases in doctor consultation fees, fuel and lubricant prices, and home rental costs. Meanwhile, Dangriga Town experienced the lowest inflation rate, with prices going down by 2.2 percent, as consumers in this town saw food prices go down by slightly more than the national average and a decline in home rental costs compared to November of last year (see Figure 3).

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External Trade Bulletin

IMPORTS UP 7.2%, DOMESTIC EXPORTS UP 26.2% IN NOVEMBER 2018

IMPORTS

NOVEMBER 2018: During the month of November 2018, Belize’s imported goods were valued at $165.6 million, up 7.2 percent or $11.1 million from the $154.5 million imported in November of 2017.


A substantial growth in the ‘Mineral Fuels and Lubricants’ category was the primary contributor to increased imports for the month. $13.1 million in November 2017 to $21.7 million in November 2018, mainly due to the fact that there was a sizeable purchase of diesel fuel made during the month, while there was none imported in November of last year. Goods destined for the ‘Commercial Free Zones’ and ‘Manufactured Goods’ also rose markedly in the eleventh month of this year. Imports into the ‘Commercial Free Zones’ went up by $5.3 million, from $30.2 million to $35.5 million, due largely to higher purchases of cigarettes, footwear and clothing, while heightened imports of galvanized and galvalume steel coils, along with ceramic tiles drove imports of ‘Manufactured Goods’ up by $2.7 million, from $20.2 million to $22.9 million.

However, in spite of the overall increase in imports for the month, minor decreases were noted within the commodity categories of ‘Other Manufactures’, ‘Chemical Products’ and ‘Food and Live Animals’. Smaller imports of metal office furniture, adhesive labels and prefabricated steel buildings led to a reduction in the ‘Other Manufactures’ category from $14.2 million in November of last year to $12.5 million in November 2018, while decreased purchases of fertilizers, herbicides and insecticides resulted in a $1.4 million drop in the importation of ‘Chemical Products’, from $14.7 million to $13.3 million. Less was also spent on food imports in November 2018 as compared to November 2017, and as a result the ‘Food and Live Animals’ category declined by $1.4 million, from $18.6 million to $17.2 million.

Greater imports of ‘Machinery and Transport Equipment’, ‘Mineral Fuels and Lubricants’ and ‘Manufactured Goods’ partially offset the decreases in the previous categories. Imports of ‘Machinery and Transport Equipment’, which recorded the largest increase of the three, grew by onethird or $8.6 million, from almost $26 million in September 2017 to $34.6 million in September of this year, due mostly to high-value purchases of aviation and telecommunications equipment. Furthermore, Belize spent considerably more on ‘Mineral Fuels and Lubricants’, as imports of bunker C fuel tripled and regular gasoline saw a near 50% increase in imported quantities during the month. This category rose by one-fourth or $4.3 million, from just below $17 million in September 2017 to $21.3 million in September 2018. Similarly, imports of ‘Manufactured Goods’ went up from $19.4 million to $20.6 million, owing to higher purchases of steel rods for the month.

FIRST ELEVEN MONTHS OF THE YEAR: Merchandise imports for the period January to November 2018 totalled $1.8 billion, representing a 5.9 percent or $98.1 million increase from the same eleven-month period last year.

Of all commodity categories, imports of ‘Mineral Fuels and Lubricants’, ‘Machinery and Transport Equipment’ and items meant for the ‘Commercial Free Zones’ recorded the most significant increases over the period, resulting in a combined growth of more than $100 million compared to the first eleven months of 2017. The ‘Mineral Fuels and Lubricants’ category, which saw the greatest increase of the three, rose by $55.6 million from $199.8 million in 2017 to $255.4 million in 2018, owing to the higher cost of fuel on the world market. Imports of ‘Machinery and Transport Equipment’ went up from $339.1 million to $363.5 million, as the country imported more vehicles, telecommunications equipment and aviation equipment in January to November of 2018 than it did during that same period last year. Imports into the ‘Commercial Free Zones’, grew from $276.5 million in 2017 to $297.2 million in 2018, which was mostly due to larger purchases of bags, clothing and cigarettes.

These considerable increases were partially offset by some notable decreases within the categories of ‘Other Manufactures’ and ‘Crude Materials’ during the month. Reduced imports of laboratory plastics, prefabricated steel buildings and medical equipment, drove the ‘Other Manufactures’ category down by $11.4 million over the period, falling from $150.2 million in November 2017 to $138.8 million in November 2018, while fewer imports of utility poles, pasture seeds and asphalt, gave rise to a $5.4 million drop in the category of ‘Crude Materials’, which fell from $32.1 million to $26.7 million compared to the same period last year.

DOMESTIC EXPORTS

NOVEmBer 2018: The total value of Belize’s domestic exports for the month of November 2018 was $21.3 million, up 26.2 percent or $4.4 million from the $16.9 million recorded for November of 2017.

Greater export revenues from both sugar and bananas was the main driver of this growth in imports for the month. Having had only negligible sales in November of last year, earnings from sugar rose sharply by just under $2 million to $2.1 million in November of this year, while exports of bananas rose from a little over $5 million to $6.1 million compared to November of 2017. Export earnings from marine products went up slightly by almost $0.5 million, from $5.2 million to $5.7 million, as conch sales doubled for the month and effectively offset a decrease in exports of other products within the marine category. Additionally, red kidney beans, while not classified as a major commodity, measurably impacted the overall growth in exports for the month. Sales of that product amounted to more than $0.6 million in November 2018, while there were no exports recorded for that commodity in November of 2017. Exports of citrus products, on the other hand, declined marginally, from $3.2 million to just above $3.0 million, with drops in the exportation of grapefruit concentrate and citrus pulp cells being recorded.

For the month of November 2018, export earnings from CARICOM rose by $1.5 million, from $3.7 million to $5.2 million, which was mostly attributed to sales of sugar and red kidney beans to that region. Revenues from the United Kingdom increased by $1.2 million compared to last November, from almost $4 million to $5.2 million, the result of boosted sugar exports to that country.

FIRST ELEVEN MONTHS OF THE YEAR: Merchandise exports for the period January to November 2018 totalled $376.5 million, down 12.4 percent or $53.4 million from that same period last year.

Sugar, citrus products, and bananas all saw declining export earnings over the eleven-month period. Despite there being virtually no change in the volumes of sugar exported, revenues from that commodity plunged by 26.4 percent or $36.3 million, from $147.8 million in 2017 to $111.5 million in 2018, as diminished prices on the European market severely impacted earnings. Revenues from citrus products fell by 10.2 percent, from $78.4 million to just over $70 million, owing mostly to decreased sales of both orange oil and orange concentrate, while revenues from banana exports dropped by 5.6 percent or $4.2 million, from $75.5 million in 2017 to $71.3 million in 2018. Notwithstanding the downturn in total export earnings over the period, gains were noted for both crude petroleum and marine products. Crude petroleum saw an 8.4 percent revenue increase, from $22.7 million in 2017 to $24.6 million in 2018, despite a significant drop in exported volumes, as that product continued to benefit from higher world market prices. Sales of marine products rose slightly from $36.9 million to $37.5 million, as a sharp increase in earnings from conch, which grew by almost three-fourths, counterbalanced a steep decline in shrimp exports over 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)