Highlights — 04 October 2013 — by Adele Ramos
Belize’s main economic sectors continue to struggle

Agriculture, petroleum and power generation—three of the major economic sectors in Belize—continued to struggle in the second quarter of 2013, after underperforming during the first three months of 2013. However, weak performance in those sectors was offset by gains in fishing, construction and Government services, according to a report for the second quarter of the year.

“Oil production continued its downward spiral, falling by 26 percent and reaching its lowest level for any calendar quarter in the past three years,” said the Statistical Institute of Belize (SIB), in a release issued today.

As for electricity generation, that fell by a similar margin due to insufficient rainfall at the two hydroelectric plants, the report added.

The report indicates that, “After a mere 0.1 percent increase in the first quarter of this year, the economy of Belize edged up 1 percent in the second quarter, putting growth for the first half of the year at 0.5 percent.”

SIB said that the 3 most influential contributors to the slight economic upturn in the second quarter were fishing, construction and Government services.

The SIB reported a 10 percent expansion in construction activity, while the output of government services grew at twice the rate of the corresponding 2012 period, making it the second largest contributor to the expansion of the economy, it added.

Meanwhile, it said, “the petroleum, electricity and agriculture sectors suffered the most significant decline in the second quarter of 2013.”

In July, the SIB had reported that citrus fruit and juice production had reached its lowest point in 18 years. Overall, citrus production fell from 143 tons to 93 tons—a decline of 35%, but sugar production increased from 546 tons to 568 tons—an increase of 4% during the first quarter (January to March 2013). However, during the second quarter, sugar production, like citrus production, also registered a downturn.

“The decline of the agriculture sector was primarily the result of the fall in sugarcane and citrus production. In the case of the former, there was a significant increase in the milling rate at the Tower Hill sugar factory, causing a larger percentage of the crop to be harvested in the first three months of the year, effectively reducing the output of the second quarter. The decrease in citrus production is attributed both to inclement weather during the flowering period and the continued attack of the deadly Citrus Greening (HLB) disease,” the SIB said.

Among the ten economic sectors on which these estimates are based, the growth performance was positive for five sectors and negative for the others, all but one of which had also declined in the first quarter of the year.

Livestock and soft drink production increased, but, according to the SIB, these were offset by lower output of flour and citrus concentrate.

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