Consumer Price Index

CONSUMER PRICES DOWN 0.2% IN JANUARY 2019: RENT AND LPG UP, FUEL AND AIRFARE DOWN

ALL-ITEMS: For the month of January 2019, the Statistical Institute of Belize reported that, on average, Belizean households experienced a decrease of 0.2 percent in the cost of regularly purchased goods and services when compared to January 2018. It was observed that higher prices for home rentals, healthcare and Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) were overshadowed by a sharp drop in intemational airfares and fuel prices. The All-Items Consumer Price Index (CPI), which summarizes all categories of consumer goods and services, stood at 104.8 in January 2019, a slight decrease from 105.0 in January 2018 (see Figure 1).

HOUSING, WATER, ELECTRICITY, GAS AND OTHER FUELS: The 'Housing, Water, Electricity, Gas and Other Fuels' category saw an overall increase of 1.9 percent for the month of January 2019. Horne rental costs, which comprise the largest share of any individual item within the average household budget, record. a 1.5 percent increase on average. This was as a result of higher rental costs in Orange Walk Town, San Ignacio/Santa Elena, Punta Gorda Town and Corozal Town, when compared to January 2018. In addition, LPG prices were up by 15.4 percent, with the average cost of a 100-pound cylinder of LPG rising by almost $16, from $99.74 in January 2018 to $115.13 in January 2019 (see Table 1). Also adding to the overall increase within this category were electricity tariffs, which were up by 6.4 percent when compared to the same period in 2018, due to a tariff increase that went into effect early last 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: The 'Food and Non-Alcoholic Beverages' category saw very little change overall compared to January of 2018, recording a minimal reduction of 0.1 percent for the month of January 2019. Lower prices were recorded for several meat products, such as ground beef, beef steak and pig tail, along with some vegetables and fruit items, including red kidney beans, pineapples, cabbages and limes (see Table 1). These decreases were, however, mostly offset by increased prices in various other food items, such as watermelons, eggs, natural milk, potatoes, pork chops and sweet peppers.

ALL OTHER GOODS AND SERVICES: Prices across 'All Other Categories of Goods and Services', saw a 0.6 percent increase on average during the month of January 2019. Higher doctor consultation fees, surgery fees, pharmaceutical product prices and admission fees to nightclubs all contributed to the overall increase among these categories when compared to the same month of last year.

INFLATION RATES BY MUNICIPALITIES: Among the country's municipalities, Punta Gorda Town experienced the highest rate of increase in consumer prices for January 2019, with an inflation rate of 2.6 percent. Consumers in this town experienced above average increases in doctor consultation fees and home rental costs. Meanwhile, Dangriga experienced the lowest inflation rate, with prices actually going down by 2.4 percent on average, as consumers in this municipality saw greater than average reductions in home rental costs (see Figure 3).

Click here for the whole report!



External Trade Bulletin

IMPORTS UP 12.3%, DOMESTIC EXPORTS UP 56.1% IN JANUARY 2019

IMPORTS

JANUARY 2019: During the month of November 2018, For the month of January 2019, Belize imported goods valuing $161.8 million. This represented a 12.3 percent or $17.7 million increase from the same month in 2018, when imports totalled $144.1 million.


The first month of the year saw greater imports across several commodity categories. Importation of ‘Manufactured Goods’ grew most significantly by 34 percent or more than $6 million, from $17.7 million in January 2018 to $23.7 million in January 2019, on account of heightened purchases of galvalume steel coils, various articles made of iron or steel, carton boxes and corrugated steel rods. The category of ‘Machinery and Transport Equipment’ similarly experienced a considerable rise in imports, surging by $5.9 million, from $32.4 million to $38.3 million, the result of high-priced purchases of aviation equipment and electrical transformers made in January of this year. Goods destined for the ‘Commercial Free Zones’ went up by $5.2 million, from $19.6 million in January of last year to $24.8 million in January 2019, due to larger imports of tennis shoes, handbags, men’s clothing and cigarettes. Furthermore, increased purchases of fertilizers and herbicides, led to a $3.6 million growth in the importation of ‘Chemical Products’, from $11.4 million in January 2018 to just above $15 million in January 2019, while imports of ‘Food and Live Animals’ rose by almost $2 million, from $19.9 million to $21.9 million, as the country bought more rice seeds, cooking oils and malted beverage powders in January 2019 compared to January 2018.

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.

On the other hand, with a drop in the imported quantities of regular and diesel fuels for the month, Belize spent $2.6 million less on ‘Mineral Fuels and Lubricants’, as this category fell from $20.6 million in January 2018 to just under $18 million in January 2019. Imports of goods classified as ‘Other Manufactures’ went down by $2.4 million, from $12.3 million to $9.9 million, due to fewer purchases of items such as surveying equipment and gold jewellery.In addition, with reduced purchases of electricity distribution equipment and food processing machinery, imports into the ‘Export Processing Zones’ declined by $1.1 million, from $4.1 million to almost $3 million for the period.

DOMESTIC EXPORTS

JANUARY 2019: The total value of Belize’s domestic exports for the month of January 2019 was $39.7 million, up significantly by 56.1 percent or $14.3 million from the $25.4 million recorded for January 2018.

A substantial increase in export earnings from sugar was the primary reason for this considerable growth during the month. Revenues from sugar rose sharply by $14.8 million, from $2.6 million in January of 2018 to $17.4 million in January 2019, owing largely to varying schedules for the shipment of bulk sugar. While exports for the month of January 2018 consisted of only bagged sugar, exports for January 2019 also included bulk sugar. In addition, both marine products and bananas saw greater export earnings in the first month of the year. Improved sales across all marine products, most notably lobster tails, led to a sizeable increase in the marine category, from a little over $2 million in January of 2018 to $3.7 million in January 2019, while revenues from bananas went up by just under $1 million, from $4.8 million to $5.8 million.

On the other hand, decreased earnings were noted for both crude petroleum and citrus products for the month. Notwithstanding the fact that exported volumes of crude petroleum were almost unchanged when compared to January 2018, revenues from this commodity declined by 21.6 percent or $1.7 million, from $7.7 million to just above $6 million, the result of a fall in world market prices in January of this year, when compared January of last year. With diminished sales for most citrus products, particularly that of grapefruit concentrate and grapefruit oil, earnings from citrus exports dropped by $1.1 million, from $3.8 million in January 2018 to $2.7 million in January of 2019.

Export earnings from the United Kingdom spiked by $13.8 million, from $5.8 million to $19.6 million, as this country was the recipient of Belize’s bulk sugar shipment for the month, while export revenues from the Caricom region fell by $1.4 million, from almost $12 million to $10.6 million owing mainly to the drop in world market prices for crude petroleum.


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)