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September 2018 External Trade & Consumer Price Index

Posted By: Marty

September 2018 External Trade & Consumer Price Index - 11/01/18 09:36 PM

Consumer Price Index

CONSUMER PRICES UP 1% IN SEPTEMBER 2018

ALL-ITEMS: Results from the Statistical Institute of Belize's monthly Consumer Price Index (CPI) survey show that for the month of September 2018, the All-Items CPI stood at 1 05.4, an increase of 1 percent from 104.4 in September 2017 (see Figure 1 ). This means that, on average, households in Belize experienced a 1 percent increase in the cost of goods and services regularly purchased for daily living. For the first nine months of the year, a year-to-date inflation rate of 0.3 percent was recorded.

TRANSPORT:With an increase of 1.7 percent for the month, the 'Transport' category was the main contributor to the overall increase in consumer prices compared to September 2017. This was mainly attributed to a 6.2 percent increase among prices in the 'Fuel and Lubricants' sub category. At the pump, the price per gallon of Premium gasoline rose by $0.59 from $11.17 in September 2017 to $11 .76 in September 2018, Regular gasoline rose by $0.72 from $10.38 to $11.10, and Diesel increased by $1 .31 from $9.40 to $10.71 (see Table 1 ). Also contributing to the overall increase in prices within this category were international airfares, which were 5.6 percent higher than they were in September 2017, and the cost of motor vehicle maintenance and repairs, which increased by 5.3 percent Although there were some small price decreases recorded within this category, such as the cost of new motor vehicles and of vehicle spare parts and accessories, these were insufficient to offset the increases in fuel, airfare and maintenance and repair prices.

FOOD & NON-ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES and ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES: For the month of September 2017, prices within the category of 'Food and Non-Alcoholic Beverages' saw an overall decrease of 0.4 percent in comparison to September of last year (see Figure 1 ). This slight decline was primarily due to decreases in several food items, with lower prices being recorded for several meat products such as beef steak and pork chops, along with some vegetables and fruits. However, these decreases were mostly offset by higher prices among other products, including whole chicken, red kidney beans, pineapple and natural milk (see Table 1 ).

HOUSING, WATER, ELECTRICITY, GAS AND OTHER FUELS: The 'Housing, Water, Electricity, Gas and Other Fuels' category recorded an overall 1.5 percent increase during the month. Average home rental costs rose by 1.1 percent in comparison to September of 2017, while Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) prices were up 15.5 percent The average cost of a 1 DO-pound cylinder of LPG jumped from $99.55 in September 2017 to $114.97 in September 2018 (see Table 1). In addition, electricity tariffs, which saw an increase earlier in this year, were up 6.4 percent compared to last September, further contributing to the overall rise recorded for this category.

ALL OTHER GOODS AND SERVICES:Across 'All Other categories of Goods and Services' prices saw an average increase of 1.1 percent during September 2018, compared to September of last year. This was due to higher prices for a number of services, including doctor consultation and surgery fees, entrance fees to sporting events and facilities, motor vehicle insurance premiums, and pre-primary and primary education fees.

INFLATION RATES BY MUNICIPALITIES: The twin towns of San Ignacio/ Santa Elena reported the highest rate of increase in consumer prices among the various municipalities, with a monthly inflation rate of 2.9 percent Households in those towns experienced above average increases in home rental prices compared to the other municipalities. Dangriga Town recorded the lowest inflation rate for the month, with prices going down on average by 0.6 percent during September 2018.

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External Trade Bulletin

IMPORTS DOWN 1.2%, DOMESTIC EXPORTS DOWN 21.4% IN SEPTEMBER 2018

IMPORTS

SEPTEMBER 2018: For the month of September 2018, Belize imported goods valuing $142.8 million. This represented a 1.2 percent or $1.7 million decrease from the same month in 2017, when imports totalled $144.5 million.


The slight downturn in overall imports for the month was primarily the result of a significant drop in goods destined for the ‘Commercial Free Zones’, which overshadowed increased spending across most of the other commodity categories. Imports into the ‘Commercial Free Zones’ plunged by over 42 percent or $15.3 million, from $36.3 million in September of last year to just above $21 million in September 2018, owing to decreased purchases of cigarettes, footwear, clothing and bags. Imports meant for the ‘Export Processing Zones’, the only other category to have shown a marked decrease for the month, saw a 50 percent reduction from $2.9 million to $1.5 million, as the country bought less solar panels, pine lumber and steel plates in September of this year when compared to that same month last year.

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 NINE MONTHS OF THE YEAR: Merchandise imports for the first nine months, January to September 2018, amounted to $1.4 billion, representing a 4.7 percent or $62.7 million increase from the same period last year.

Greater expenditures across three categories, ‘Mineral Fuels and Lubricants’, ‘Machinery and Transport Equipment’ and ‘Commercial Free Zones’ were for the most part responsible for this rise in imports over the period. The ‘Mineral Fuels and Lubricants’ category went up by 20 percent from $169.3 million in 2017 to $203.8 million in 2018, due largely to higher world market prices for fuel. An increase in imports of highly priced items, such as aviation and telecommunications equipment, drove the ‘Machinery and Transport Equipment’ category up by $25.8 million, from $270.5 million during the first nine months of 2017 to $296.3 million during the same period of this year, while imports into the ‘Commercial Free Zones’ rose by $11.2 million, from $214.7 million to $225.9 million, due to increased purchases of bags and clothing.

DOMESTIC EXPORTS

SEPTEMBER 2018: Total domestic exports for September 2018 amounted to $38.1 million, down 21.4 percent or $10.4 million when compared to exports for September 2017, which were valued at $48.5 million.

Diminished returns from sugar was the principal cause of the decline in export earnings for the month. Although exported volumes of this commodity saw only a slight 3.3 percent drop compared to September of last year, revenues from that commodity fell significantly by 27.2 percent, from $28.5 million to $20.7 million, as bulk sugar was sold for noticeably less on the European market compared to last September. Bananas saw a smaller reduction in earnings for the month, falling by less than a million, from $8 million in September 2017 to $7.1 million in the same month this year, while revenues for citrus products remained virtually unchanged at approximately $3.6 million. Among the major commodities, marine products recorded the only increase for the month, as export earnings for rose from $2.3 million to $3.1 million, due to boosted sales of whole lobsters, lobster meat and shrimp. Molasses and sawn wood, while not classified as major exports, fell sharply in the month, resulting in a combined revenue loss of $2.2 million when compared to September 2017.

Earnings from exports to the United Kingdom surged by $22.4 million during the month, from $2.3 million last September to $24.7 million in September 2018, while exports to the rest of the European Union plunged from $35.2 million to a little over $4 million, the result of the redirection of Belize’s bulk sugar for the month. Additionally, with the sharp decline in other exports, particularly molasses and sawn wood, export revenues from the United States of America dwindled from $4.4 million in September 2017 to $2.6 million in September 2018.

FIRST NINE MONTHS OF THE YEAR: Merchandise exports for the period January to September 2018 totalled $313.9 million, down 14.9 percent or almost $56 million from the same period last year.

Export earnings for all of Belize’s major products were down during first nine months of the year. Sugar suffered the greatest loss at 22.4 percent or just under $31 million, falling from $138.2 million in 2017 to $107.3 million in 2018, in spite of a 4.1 percent increase in exported volumes of that commodity, owing to a disadvantageous price reduction for bulk sugar on the European market. Exports of citrus products declined by 10.8 percent or $7.7 million, from $71.9 million to $64.2 million, due largely to a notable drop in sales of orange oil coupled with a 5.5 percent reduction in exports of orange concentrate from $53.6 million in 2017 to $50.7 million in 2018. For the nine month period, earnings from bananas fell by 8.4 percent or $5.2 million, from $61.6 million to $56.4 million. Notwithstanding strong sales of conch and lobster tails, exports of marine products diminished by $1.3 million, from $27.3 million to just above $26 million, on account of a more than 50 percent drop in shrimp sales. For the period January to September, revenues from crude petroleum declined minimally, from $16.5 million in 2017 to $15.9 million in 2018.


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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)

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