BELIZE CITY, Thurs. June 27, 2019
Imports up 1.9% in May 2019
The Statistics Institute of Belize (SIB) reported that Belize imported $169.4 million worth of goods in May 2019, a 1.9% increase over goods imported last year in the same period.
Imports of ‘Food and Live Animals’ went up “from $22.6 million in May 2018 to $25.1 million on account of larger imports of infant formulas, corn seeds and lard (shortening)”, parts for food processing equipment and centrifuges increased from $32.4 million to nearly $34 million, and ‘Crude Materials’ imports rose from $2.8 million to $4.2 million, with more purchases of wooden poles and pine lumber.
In the category, ‘Other Manufactures’, there was decreased purchases of men’s clothing, lighters and Christmas lights, from $12.1 million to $10.1 million, and in the ‘Manufactured Goods’ category “reduced purchases of corrugated steel bars, plywood and galvalume sheets” led to a $2 million decrease of expenditure, from $24.6 million in May 2018 to $22.6 million in May 2019.
Sugar, bananas, livestock and tourism helped economy grow 5.2% in first quarter of 2019
SIB reported that Belize’s economy, led by increases in primary and tertiary activities, grew by 5.2% in the first quarter of 2019 when compared with the same period last year. The SIB’s preliminary estimates show that Belize produced $782 million worth of goods and services for the period, up $38.6 million over the $743.4 million worth of goods and services for the same period last year.
Primary activities was up 13.8%, with sugarcane up 16.4%, bananas up 22.5%, livestock up 8.7%, and pig production up 11.3%. The increases in crop earnings was attributed to favorable weather. A 1.1% decrease in poultry production during the period dragged down the “overall growth rate of 1.8 percent for the livestock industry.”
Shrimp production increased by 69%, conch exports were up 57.5%, and lobster earnings was up 5.9%. Citrus continued sliding downward, dropping off 6.3% when compared to the first quarter of 2018. SIB attributed the fall off “due to a late start to the production period and a shortage of workers in the industry.”
In the secondary sector, “‘Electricity and Water’ declined by 16.1%, the result of an almost 20 percent decline in electricity generation” which was “due to insufficient rainfall in the Vaca reserve area”, but water production increased by 5.5%, “due to growth in market demand.” Construction fell off 2.9% and “crude petroleum extraction decreased by 17.2 percent, as reservoirs continue to be depleted.” Manufacturing and Mining was up, however, with a 4.4% increase in beer production, and soft drinks production up 2.9%. Overall this sector was down 4.7% when compared to last year.
SIB said “the services sector, which accounts for more than half of the country’s total economy, grew by 5 percent during the first quarter of 2019, when compared to the same period of 2018.” A 6.3% increase in overnight visitors helped the Hotels and Restaurants subsector grow by 6.8 percent. In the first quarter of 2019, 158 thousand persons overnighted in Belize. Tourists visiting from Canada was up 10.3%, tourists from Europe was up 5%, and visitors from the US was up 4.9%. Cruise tourists went up 19.5%.
Consumer prices decline 0.01% in May 2019
The SIB said consumer prices for goods and services Belizeans regularly purchase declined “an almost imperceptible 0.01 percent” in May this year, when compared to May last year. Increased cost “of ‘Food & Non-Alcoholic Beverages’, ‘Alcoholic Beverages’, ‘Education’, ‘Recreational and Cultural Services’ and insurance premiums were almost exactly offset by decreases in the cost of fuel, international airfares, home rentals, and outpatient medical services,” the SIB report said.
The cost of ground beef, beef steak, pork chops, pigtail and several fruits and vegetables, including pineapple, watermelon, cabbage, sweet pepper, and lettuce was up. The cost of spare parts, vehicle repair, butane, and electricity were also up.
In May 2019, the cost of transportation was down 1%, thanks to a 5.9 percent drop in international airfares, the cost of fuels and lubricants was down 0.7%, and home rentals costs was down 1.2%, when compared to May last year. The cost of living in May this year was down 5.4% in Dangriga, when compared to May last year, but the cost of living was up 3.2% in Toledo.
SIB says unemployment rate down to 7.6% in April 2019
SIB said their preliminary statistics show the unemployment rate at 7.6% in April this year, the lowest it has ever been recorded. There was a net increase of 8,478 employed persons, and a number of persons left the labor force.
SIB estimated that there were 177,915 persons in the labor force in April 2019, with 164,428 being employed. The Belize District showed the highest gains.
The report said that “women remained far less likely to be a part of the labor force, with a participation rate of 53 percent, compared to almost 80 percent among males. For both males and females, participation was highest in persons aged 35 to 44 years, and lowest in the 14 to 24 years age group.”
Notes: “Males and females contributed roughly the same numbers to this growth in employment, with 4,380 of new jobs going to males and 4,098 being taken up by females. Persons aged 25 to 34 years accounted for the largest group of employed persons, representing 28.2 percent of all persons with jobs. About 26 percent of all employed persons held jobs that were classified as ‘Services and Sales Workers’, followed by 22.7 percent who worked in ‘Elementary Occupations’”
“Among the industries, the three biggest employers were ‘Agriculture and Related Activities’, ‘Wholesale and Retail Trade and Repairs’, and ‘Tourism’. These three categories combined accounted for almost a half of all jobs in the country, with each providing jobs to just under 16 percent of the employed labor force. The national median monthly income in April 2019 was $1,244, a small increase of $26 from April 2018. Men continued to earn slightly more than women, with a median monthly income of $1,268 compared to $1,207 for females.”
“The median monthly income for urban persons stood at $1,409, compared to $1,101 for rural workers,”… “unemployment among females, decreased by almost 4 percentage points from 14.9 percent to 11 percent between April 2018 and April 2019, females continued to be twice as likely to be unemployed as males.”
Domestic exports down 35.6% in May 2019
SIB reports show that domestic exports for May was $37.1 million, compared to $57.6 million in May 2018, a decrease of $20.5 million or 35.6%. Revenues for sugar, crude petroleum, and citrus products were down for the month, sugar falling $9.1 million (less bulk sugar exported), crude petroleum showing no revenue (no exports in May this year), and citrus products down $6.2 million (reduced exports of orange concentrate and orange oil). Earnings from marine products fell $0.3 million.
Revenues from banana exports increased $0.6 million, red beans increased by $1.3 million, and earnings from molasses exports “grew from $0.05 million in May 2018 to $1.3 million in May 2019.”
Imports up 2.6% Jan-May 2019, compared to same period in 2018
SIB statistics show that Belize imported $771.8 million worth of merchandize between January and May 2019, $19.5 million more than we spent on imports last year in the same period. Increased imports were registered in the ‘Mineral Fuels and Lubricants’ category, which “rose by $12.7 million, from $107.2 million in 2018 to $119.9 million in 2019”, and the ‘Manufactured Goods’ category, with increased “imports of iron and steel structures, carton boxes, corrugated steel bars and ceramic tiles” went up “$12.3 million, from $96.2 million to $108.5 million.”
Higher imports of lard (shortening), soups and baby formulas pushed the ‘Food and Live Animals’ category up “$5.2 million for the period, from $90.6 million in 2018 to $95.8 million in 2019.”