Economy Features — 30 January 2015 — by Adele Ramos
Belize’s exports decline for 4th consecutive year

BELIZE CITY, Wed. Jan. 28, 2015–Information released by the Statistical Institute of Belize (SIB) indicates that Belize’s exports have declined in value for the 4th consecutive year, but 2014 registered the sharpest decline over the period spanning 2011-2014.

“Total exported goods for the year in 2014 amounted to $602.9 million, down $57.2 million or 8.7 percent from last year’s earnings of $660 million,” said the SIB, attributing much of the decline to a fall in crude oil sales, by $37.9 million, from $140.1 million to $102.2 million (or 27%).

It said that the decline in oil sales reflects both the fall in the number of barrels exported as well as the continuing decline in the price per barrel on the world market.

Our import bill has hit a record of $2 billion plus; inflation for 2014 is reported at 1%

However, the fall-off in world oil prices meant good news for consumers, particularly in December, when inflation actually registered at -0.4%, with an ease in food prices also contributing to negative inflation.

The SIB noted that, “The price per gallon of all three types of fuel fell considerably in comparison to December 2013, with the price of premium and regular gasoline down by about 22 percent and 17 percent, respectively, while that of diesel was more than 20 percent lower. Similarly, international airfares were down by 17 percent from the same month last year. On average, food prices were 1.8 percent lower, with the most notable decreases being seen in fresh vegetables, eggs, and red kidney beans.”

Butane prices also eased, with the average price of a 100-pound cylinder dropping more than $10 from $119.85 in December 2013 to $109.26 in December 2014.

Butane is one of the items imported from Central America and Mexico, two of Belize’s trading partners. However, 31% of the goods which Belize imported in 2014 came from the United States.

For the first time, Belize’s import bill has exceeded $2 billion, with the increase being largely attributed to the purchase of motor vehicles for personal transport, vehicles for the transportation of goods, and aircraft — which rose in total value by a combined $27 million during the year.

Over the past 4 years (2011-2014), Belize’s import bill has increased almost 20%, from $1.67 billion to just over $2 billion.

“Diesel purchases rose by $15 million from $106 million to $121 million, notwithstanding the decline recorded in December, while imports of ‘Food and Live Animals’ grew by $23 million, from $203 million to $226 million,” the SIB reports.

On the other side of the trade equation, “Citrus exports were down by more than $16 million, due largely to decreased orange concentrate exports. Sugar and banana sales increased by $2.8 million and $2.7 million, respectively, while marine exports recorded only a marginal increase of $0.3 million for the year,” according to the SIB.

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