Features — 31 December 2015 — by Adele Ramos

BELIZE CITY, Wed. Dec. 23, 2015–The country’s import bill as of November 2015 had reached approximately $1.9 billion, with a month of imports yet to be included in the tally, which, if the usual trend holds true, will exceed $2 billion by year-end with the conclusion of the annual holiday shopping sprees.

Information released today by the Statistical Institute of Belize (SIB) indicates that the country’s import bill for November alone was $190.2 million, up by 3.8% or $6.9 million, from the $183.3 million imported in November 2014.

By last November, Belize had imported $1.82 billion worth of goods, up from roughly $1.7 billion for January to November 2013.

According to the SIB, Belize imported $18 million worth of motor vehicle parts purchased during November alone, largely accounting for the rise in imports of ‘Machinery and Transport Equipment’ by $26 million, from $34 million during last November to $60 million in November 2015.

With the decline in world market prices for crude oil and fuel products, Belize saw a substantial decline in the import bill for ‘Mineral Fuels and Lubricants’ – down by $6 million dollars.
According to the SIB, “…no premium fuel was imported in November of this year.”

For the first 11 months of the year, there was a $69 million reduction in spending on ‘Mineral Fuels and Lubricants’, as world fuel prices remain lower than they were during the same period in 2014, the SIB said.

Meanwhile, Belize’s domestic exports have been performing much better this year than last year, with earnings up by 17.8% or $5.7 million, bringing the new tally to $38.1 million.
“This sizeable increase was due primarily to strong sugar earnings for the month,” the SIB said.

It added that, “Sugar sales shot up from less than a million dollars in November 2014 to $13.4 million during this November, offsetting declines in Belize’s three other major exports.”

While crude petroleum, marine products and bananas, constituted almost three fourths of Belize’s export in November 2014, they had fallen to less than a half of total imports in November 2015.

Earnings from crude petroleum fell by $4 million in November 2015, while earnings from marine products and bananas each declined by $2 million. Citrus exports did better, increasing by over $1 million this November when compared to last November.

While November was a good month for domestic exports, especially sugar, exports were generally lower for the first 11 months of 2015 than the same period last year.

The country earned $66.7 million less, with the earnings dropping from $448.6 million for the period January to December 2014 to $515.3 million for January to December 2015.

“Crude petroleum exports plummeted by $59 million [for January to November 2015], while sales of marine products fell by $18 million. Sugar was the only major export to have increased over this period, recording a growth of 22% or $24 million [over the first 11 months of the year],” the SIB said.

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