Consumer Price Index

CONSUMER PRICES UP 0.2% IN APRIL 2019: FOOD & ELECTRICITY UP, RENT DOWN

ALL-ITEMS: For the month of April 2019, results from the Statistical Institute of Belize's monthly Consumer Price Index (CPI) survey show that the All-items CPI stood at 104.9, an increase of 0.2 percent from 104.7 in April 2018 (see Figure 1). This indicates that, on average, Belizean households experienced a marginal increase of 0.2 percent in the prices of regularly purchased goods and services in the month of April 2019 when compared to the same month in 2018. Higher prices were observed for various food items, electricity, recreation and cultural services, and education services. However, these were offset by lower home rental costs and prices for items such as furniture and furnishings. The cumulative inflation rate for the first four months of 2019, when compared to the same period in 2018, stood at 0.1 percent.

HOUSING, WATER, ELECTRICITY, GAS AND OTHER FUELS: For the month of April 2019, the 'Housing, Water, Electricity, Gas and Other Fuels' category saw a decrease of 0.7 percent when compared to the same month in 2018 (see Figure 2). This was mostly due to a one percent decrease in home rental costs, as lower prices were recorded in Belmopan, Belize City and Dangriga Town. A small decline was also noted in the cost of Liquified Petroleum Gas (LPG) for the month, with the average cost of a 100-pound cylinder of LPG falling by 0.2 percent, from $115.51 in April 2018 to $115.30 in April 2019 (see Table 1). These decreases were able to overshadow a rise in electricity prices, which were up by 11.9 percent in comparison to April 2018, as a result of rate increases that went into effect in July 2018 and January 2019.

TRANSPORT: Prices within the 'Transport' category saw an overall increase of 0.1 percent for the month of April 2019 (see Figure 2). This was mainly due to higher prices for the servicing of motor vehicles, which were up by 3.4 percent compared to April of last year, coupled with a 0.8 percent increase in international airfares. Notwithstanding these increases, the 'Fuels and Lubricants' sub-category saw a marginal decline during the month. At the pump, the average price per gallon of Premium gasoline went down by 5 percent from $11.55 in April 2018 to $10.97 in April 2019, while Regular gasoline went up slightly by 0.1 percent from $10.64 to $10.66, and Diesel prices rose by 0.1 percent from $10.33 to $10.34 (see Table 1).

FOOD & NON-ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES and ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES: The 'Food and Non-Alcoholic Beverages' category recorded an overall increase of 0.4 percent in April 2019, when compared to April of last year (see Figure 2). Higher prices were observed for several items including beef steak, whole chicken, rice, and eggs, as well as various fruits and vegetables such as pineapples, watermelons, sweet peppers, onions, tomatoes and cabbages. These increases were, however, partly offset by decreased prices for ground beef, pork chops, natural milk, red kidney beans, and limes (see Table 1).

ALL OTHER GOODS AND SERVICES: Prices across the remaining categories which make up 'All Other Categories of Goods and Services' saw a 0.7 percent increase on average during the month of April 2019 (see Figure 2). Higher school fees, particularly for secondary and tertiary level institutions, motor vehicle insurance and health insurance premiums, and entrance fees to sporting events all contributed to the overall increase among these categories for the month. Nonetheless, some small decreases were seen in prices for furniture and fumishings, carpets and other floor coverings, and small household appliances, when compared to April of last year.

INFLATION RATES BY MUNICIPALITIES: With an inflation rate of 3.0 percent, Punta Gorda Town experienced the highest rate of increase in consumer prices for April 2018. Consumers in this town saw above average increases in prices for food items, doctor consultation fees, hospital room accommodations, and home rental costs. On the other hand, Dangriga Town saw consumer prices going down by 5.8 percent for the month, as this town recorded a reduction in home rental costs when compared to April of last year (see Figure 3).

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External Trade Bulletin

IMPORT S DOWN 5.7%, DOMESTIC EXPORT S UP 81.9% IN APRIL 2019

IMPORTS

APRIL 2019: For the month of April 2019, Belize imported goods valuing $147.4 million. This represented a 5.7 percent or $8.8 million decrease from the same month in 2018, when imports totalled $156.2 million.

Increasing Categories: Notwithstanding the fall in total imports, the categories of ‘Mineral Fuels and Lubricants’, ‘Food and Live Animals’ and ‘Other Manufactures’ all grew markedly for the month. The ‘Mineral Fuels and Lubricants’ category rose significantly, by almost 46 percent or $9.3 million, from $20.3 million in April of last year to $29.6 million in April 2019. The considerable growth seen in this category was due to a near 30 percent increase in imported quantities of regular gasoline, coupled with the fact that during the month of April 2019 there were incoming shipments of premium gasoline and kerosene, neither of which was imported in April of last year. With larger imports of lard (shortening) and corn seeds, the ‘Food and Live Animals’ category went up from just above $16 million in April 2018 to $19.1 million in April 2019, while greater imports of plastic bottles, cotton T-shirts and household items made of plastic resulted in an uptick in the ‘Other Manufactures’ category, from $9.5 million to $11.8 million.

Decreasing Categories: Notable decreases across three categories led to the drop in imports for the month. Imports of ‘Machinery and Transport Equipment’ declined by $10.3 million, from $37.7 million in April 2018 to $27.4 million in April 2019, owing largely to reduced purchases of telecommunications equipment, fibre optic cables and food processing equipment. Goods meant for the ‘Commercial Free Zones’ diminished by $9.3 million, from $23.8 million to $14.5 million, as the country bought less cigarettes, handbags and whiskies, while smaller imports of fertilizers drove the ‘Chemical Products’ category down $5.2 million, from $17.7 million in April 2018 to $12.5 million in April 2019.

FIRST FOUR MONTHS OF THE YEAR: Merchandise imports for the first four months, January to April 2019, amounted to $602.4 million, representing a 2.8 percent or $16.4 million increase from the same period last year.

Increasing Categories: Greater imports of ‘Manufactured Goods’ and ‘Mineral Fuels and Lubricants’ were the primary contributors to the growth over this period. Larger imports of structures made of iron or steel, corrugated steel bars, carton boxes and ceramic tiles drove the ‘Manufactured Goods’ category up by a substantial $14.3 million, rising from $71.6 million in 2018 to $85.9 million in 2019. An increase in imported quantities of regular gasoline, kerosene and diesel fuels, together with higher world market prices for fuels, resulted in the ‘Mineral Fuels and Lubricants’ category rising considerably by $13.2 million, from $83.4 million in 2018 to $96.6 million in 2019. Smaller increases were also observed across the categories of ‘Food and Live Animals’, ‘Chemical Products’ and ‘Oils and Fats’. With heightened food imports over the period, along with a noticeable spike in purchases of lard (shortening), the category of ‘Food and Live Animals’ rose from almost $68 million to $70.7 million. Imports of ‘Chemical Products’ grew by $1.6 million, from $51.6 million in 2018 to $53.2 million in 2019, due to a rise in purchases of fertilizers and herbicides, while increased imports of various types of cooking oils, including soybean oil and olive oil, led to an uptick of $1.3 million in the ‘Oils and Fats’ category, from $5.2 million to $ 6.5 million.

Decreasing Categories: Despite the rise in imports over the first four months of the year, the categories of ‘Machinery and Transport Equipment’, ‘Designated Processing Areas’ and ‘Other Manufactures’ all decreased notably during the period. Imports of ‘Machinery and Transport Equipment’ dropped from $129.4 million in 2018 to $121.4 million in 2019, as the country imported fewer fibre optic cables, telecommunications equipment and tractors within the first four months of this year, when compared to that same period last year. Goods destined for the ‘Designated Processing Areas’ fell by almost $5 million, from approximately $16 million to roughly $11 million, with parts for processing equipment and hoses being among the decreased imports. Sizeable reductions in purchases of surveying instruments and gold jewellery led to a $4.3 million decline in the ‘Other Manufactures’ category’, from $48.5 million in 2018 to $44.2 million in 2019.

DOMESTIC EXPORTS

APRIL 2019: Total domestic exports for April 2019 amounted to $48.7 million, up by a significant 81.9 percent or $21.9 million when compared to exports for April 2018, which were valued at $26.8 million.

Increasing Categories: This substantial growth in earnings when compared to April of last year was driven primarily by increased sugar exports for the month. As a result of differences in the scheduling of bulk sugar shipments from year to year, only bagged sugar was exported during April of last year, while bulk sugar was exported in April 2019. Consequently, revenues from sugar rose sharply during the month, from $1.6 million in April 2018 to $20.9 million in April 2019. Among Belize’s other major exports, bananas alone saw increased earnings for the month, rising by $1.4 million, from $6.9 million to $8.3 million. Animal feed, while not considered a major export, also contributed to the overall growth in exports for the month, recording a boost in earnings from just under $0.4 million in April 2018 to $1.5 million in April 2019.

Decreasing Categories: Earnings from citrus products fell, from $11.6 million in April of last year to $10.3 million in April 2019, mainly on account of decreased exports of orange concentrate and grapefruit oil, while revenues from marine products declined marginally, from $1.8 million to $1.7 million, due to lessened exports of whole lobsters and lobster meat.

Major Export Destinations: For the month, export earnings from the United Kingdom surged from $5.2 million in April 2018 to $25.6 million in April 2019, as this country was the recipient of Belize’s bulk sugar exports. Earnings from CARICOM grew by $1.7 million, from $4.4 million to $6.1 million, due to greater exports of orange concentrate to this region, combined with revenues from a newly introduced commodity, crude soybean oil. With heightened exports of animal feed and red kidney beans during the month, earnings from Central America went up from a little over $0.5 million in April 2018 to $1.8 million in April 2019. On the other hand, exports to the United States of America dropped by $3.2 million, from $9.8 million to $6.6 million, owing for the most part to diminished exports of orange concentrate and essential oils of lime, orange and grapefruit.

FIRST FOUR MONTHS OF THE YEAR: Merchandise exports for the period January to April 2019 totalled $139.7 million, up 6.4 percent or almost $8.5 million from the same period last year.

Increasing Categories: Export earnings from sugar, bananas and marine products all went up over the four-month period. Revenues from sugar grew by 18.2 percent or almost $7 million, from $38.2 million in 2018 to $45.1 million in 2019. It should be noted, however, that exported volumes of that product rose by a much more significant 43 percent, signalling lowered prices for bulk sugar, particularly on the European market. Earnings from bananas increased by $5.4 million during the period, from $22.3 million in 2018 to $27.7 million in 2019, while revenues from marine products were up by $2.6 million, from $9.4 million to just above $12 million, due to greater exports of conch and improved shrimp sales.

Decreasing Categories: Revenues were down for both citrus products and crude petroleum during the first four months of the year. Earnings from citrus products declined from $31.1 million in 2018 to $25.3 million in 2019, mainly due to a drop of almost one fourth in exports of orange concentrate over the period. Crude petroleum saw diminished revenues of $1.7 million, as export returns from that commodity fell from $7.7 million in 2018 to a little over $6 million in 2019.


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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)