Highlights — 04 October 2013 — by Adele Ramos
Belize’s trade gap expands from $306 mil to $394 mil

Animal feed has since 2012 grown to become a major income-earner

The latest trade bulletin issued by the Statistical Institute of Belize (SIB), detailing the scope of Belize’s import and export activities for the first seven months of 2013, reveals a widening trade gap, coupled with a dip in exports from some of the major sectors – chief among them being the petroleum sector, the hardest hit sector, showing a decline of about $28 million in value, followed next by a decline in orange concentrate by about $24 million in value.

Overall, Belize’s visible trade gap expanded from $306 million during the first seven months of 2012, to $394 million during the first seven months of this year. Imports are in the range of $1.1 billion, while exports are in the range of half-a-billion dollars, if we exclude trade by the Commercial Free Zone.

The bulk of Belize’s imports come from our immediate northern neighbors – the USA and Mexico. However, the bulk of our domestic exports are landed in the European Union, followed by the US.

Whereas Belize’s net trade with the EU and CARICOM is positive – meaning that we export to them more than we import from them – the net trade with the US and Mexico shows a reversed trend.

Belize buys far more from the US and Mexico than they buy from us. In the case of Mexico, for example, domestic exports to that country totaled around $6.3 million, while Belize imported roughly 20 times more – $122 million worth of goods from that country.

The scenario with the US is similar, with the US taking $154 million worth of Belize’s exports, while Belize purchases more than double – $340 million worth of imports – from that country.

In analyzing the data, we also gleaned that import levels were the highest during second-quarter 2013 – at $475.3 million – of the last five quarters on record. The bulk of Belize’s imports were in the form of industrial supplies, free zone goods, fuel and lubricants, and food and beverages.

SIB notes that Belize’s import bill for January to July 2013 is 5% higher than the bill for the same period last year.

SIB explained that, “…consumer goods accounted for one of every five dollars spent on imports, with the largest expenditures being on insecticides for agricultural use, medications, cigarettes and vitamin supplements.”

It added that, “Intermediate goods, which largely consisted of industrial supplies and fuel, remained the largest category of imports, almost doubling expenses on consumer goods. Within this category, expenditure fell by almost $13 million, mostly as a result of a fall in the volume of diesel and kerosene purchased.”

Belize’s fuel import bill for July was also substantial. According to SIB, “Curaçao, where the Government of Venezuela leases and operates a major oil refinery and from which fuel is imported under the PetroCaribe Agreement, remained the second largest import supplier during the month, followed by The People’s Republic of China, Mexico, and Guatemala, in that order.”

Whereas the import bill continued to expand, Belize’s domestic exports continued to contract.

“In the seven months up to July, [domestic exports] amounted to $426.1 million, a full $45 million or 10 percent less than in the same period of 2012. This decline is primarily attributed to lower production of all major exports except marine products and papayas,” it said.

On the upside, though, animal feed has since 2012 grown to become a major income-earner for Belize. It earned Belize $20 million for the first seven months of 2013 – a major expansion from the modest million earned from animal feed during the first seven months of 2012.

According to the SIB, the funds earned from the export of animal feed during January to July 2013 register at an all-time high.

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