Features — 28 March 2014 — by Adele Ramos
Exports down, imports “continue to swell,” inflation up

Sugar exports fell by almost a half

The 2013 trend of declining receipts from Belize’s major exports has continued into February 2014, according to information just released today by the Statistical Institute of Belize (SIB).

“Belize export receipts for February 2014 stood at $49.5 million. This represents a decrease of approximately $12 million or 20 percent over the same month last year,” the SIB said.

It added that export receipts for all major exports, except marine products, declined.

“The largest fall in earnings occurred in the export of sugar, which fell by roughly one-half to $7.7 million,” the report said.

Poor weather conditions and the delayed opening of the sugar factory was the cause of declining sugar revenues, the SIB said. However, it noted that the 2014 forecast for sugar production was generally good.

Crude oil receipts were also down, despite an increase in world market prices. According to the SIB, this is because Belize exported slightly less crude oil in the month, resulting in a $2 million reduction in revenues.

Meanwhile, Belize’s import bill continued to swell. The SIB said that the import bill grew by $7.5 million or 5.6% to $141.2 million, with the rise being led by demand for machinery and transport equipment, other manufactured goods and chemical products.

All told, Belize spent $279.2 million for the first two months of 2014—an increase of $10.7 million or 3.9% over the first two months of 2013.

Even as the import bill was up, so was inflation, at 1.7%.

“Food and housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels were the two major contributors to this month’s inflation rate,” the SIB said.

It reported a 3% hike in the food index, driven mainly by higher prices for vegetables and meats. Cabbage, sweet pepper, tomato, black beans and red kidney beans all rose by over 20% and ground beef rose by 23%.

The price of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) was up by 10%, with the 100-pound cylinder rising from about $114 to almost $126 due to higher acquisition costs. (LPG prices have since increased another $2.)

Of note is that the highest inflation rate was reported in Dangriga at 2.9%, where housing rentals were up by almost 2%, as was the case in San Ignacio/Santa Elena and Belize City.

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