Latest — 28 July 2018
Cost of imports keep rising

BELIZE CITY, Thurs. July 26, 2018– The Belize Institute of Statistics report for June 2018, indicates that imports were up 10.5%, when compared with June 2017. The value of the total imports for the month was $170.8 million, which is $16.2 million more than the $154.7 million worth of goods imported in June last year.

The BIS attributes the increase in the cost of imports to “a sizeable growth in the quantity of diesel fuel imported, coupled with significantly higher world market prices for fuels compared to June of 2017.”

The report says imports in the minerals and fuels category “surged from $14.6 million to $31.5 million,” that “there were notable increases in goods destined for the commercial free zones, which rose from almost $27 million to $31.4 million, due to heightened purchases of cigarettes, footwear and perfumes,” and that the cost of imported manufactured goods rose from $18.9 million in June 2017 to $21.4 million in June 2018, because of “greater imports of steel rods, steel scaffolding and galvanized steel coils.”

In the category of decreased imports, the total value of imported “chemical products” fell by $2.1 million, from $19.9 million in June of last year to $17.8 million in June 2018 because of decreased purchases of “herbicides, drainage pipes and antibiotics.” Also, reduced imports of pine lumber “resulted in a $2 million drop in the category of ‘crude materials’, from $3.6 million to nearly $1.6 million” in the period. Decreased imports of “tanks for water and gas, as well as rubber hoses,” helped cause imports into the export processing zones to be “down by $1.6 million, from $4.1 million to $2.5 million;” and the purchase of “other manufactures” went down by “$1.4 million, from $13.9 million to $12.5 million” — with the most notable decreases in this category being in the purchase of laboratory plastics, prefabricated buildings, and gaming machines and their parts.

BIS reports that total merchandise imports from January to June 2018 was $923.1 million, a “3.2 percent or $28.9 million increase from the same six-month period last year.” BIS says that the acquisition cost of fuel was largely responsible for the increased import bill, with our country paying “30 percent or $31.8 million more on imported ‘mineral fuels and lubricants’, with costs rising from $106.8 million in 2017 to $138.6 million in 2018.”

During the period January to June 2018, the value of goods destined for the commercial free zones went up by “$10.3 million, from $134.8 million to $145.1 million, due to increased purchases of bags and clothing.” Imports of machinery and transport equipment went up “$8.1 million, from $182.6 million in 2017 to $190.7 million in 2018,” thanks to “increased imports of telecommunications equipment, four-cylinder vehicles, and food processing machines.”

As previously mentioned, some commodity categories showed decreased purchases during the period January to June 2018. BIS noted that “‘other manufactures’, ‘crude materials’, ‘chemical products’ and ‘manufactured goods’, actually fell by “a combined $21.1 million in the first six months of the year.”

Domestic exports keep falling

The Belize Institute of Statistics reported that “domestic exports for the month of June 2018 was $35.9 million, down 7.3 percent or $2.8 million from the $38.7 million recorded for June 2017.” BIS says sugar saw the greatest decline, with export earnings falling by 16.1%, “from $12.7 million in June 2017 to $10.7 million in June 2018.” BIS says these losses occurred in the sugar industry despite a 17.2% increase in the volume of exports.

“Marine exports shrank from $4.3 million to $3.3 million,” and citrus products were down “from nearly $10 million to almost $9.4 million,” the report says.

Bananas, molasses, and animal feeds were the bright spots for the month, with bananas showing increased earnings of “just under $0.5 million, from a little over $5 million to $5.5 million,” molasses tripling its earnings over June 2017, with $2.2 million worth of exports for June of this year, and animal feeds also tripling its earnings, “from just under $0.7 million in June 2017 to almost $2 million in June 2018.”

Export earnings from the USA dropped from $17.6 million in June 2017, to $9.7 million in June 2018, while export earnings from the United Kingdom rose by $9.1 million, from $4.6 million in June 2017 to $13.7 million in June 2018. The BIS says this was “due to the majority of Belize’s sugar being directed from the US, which was the primary destination for this commodity last June, to the UK in June 2018.”

Reduced exports of orange concentrate to the rest of the European Union and CARICOM in June 2018, resulted in earnings from each falling “by roughly $1.3 million when compared to June of last year.” However, sales of animal feed caused earnings from Central America to grow “from just under $0.7 million in June 2017, to $1.9 million in June 2018.”

For the six-month period, January to June 2018, BIS says merchandise exports for the period “totaled $226.5 million, down 18 percent or $49.8 million from the $276.3 million recorded during same period last year.”

BIS says there were decreased earnings from four of the country’s five major exports during the six-month period. The value of sugar exports “plunged by $33.8 million, from $107.6 million in 2017 to $73.8 million in 2018;” the value of citrus exports “fell by almost $7 million, from $57.6 million to $50.6 million;” the value of banana exports fell “15 percent or $6.1 million, from $41.7 million in 2017 to $35.6 million in 2018,” and “despite strong sales of both lobster tails and conch during the first six months of the year, exports of marine products declined from $17.2 million in 2017 to $14.7 million in 2018, as shrimp exports continue to dwindle.”

The only major export that showed increased earnings was crude petroleum, which grew “by $4.5 million, from $11.4 million to $15.9 million.” BIS attributed the increased earnings in the oil sector to favorable world market prices.”

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Deshawn Swasey

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