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Belize’s GDP increased by over $60M for first quarter of 2022

HighlightsBelize’s GDP increased by over $60M for first quarter of 2022

In its most recent report on the country’s economy, the SIB revealed that Belize’s GDP increased by 5.3%, or BZ $61.3 Million. The January to May 2022 inflation rate, however, was 5.3%.

By Khaila Gentle

BELIZE CITY, Wed. June 29, 2022

According to the Statistical Institute of Belize (SIB), the country’s economy grew by 5.3% for the first quarter of 2022; but the inflation rate for the period of January – May 2022, compared to that same period in 2021, was also 5.3%. This was shared alongside recently compiled data on the country’s imports and exports at the SIB’s second press conference since the start of 2022, held on Wednesday.

The SIB’s statisticians also reported that while earnings from domestic exports increased by 11.7% compared to the first five months of 2021, imports were up by a significant 44.6%.

The inflation rate, which is the percentage change in Consumer Price Index (CPI), is a reflection of the changes in prices that consumers pay for goods and services. According to Melvin Perez, Statistician II at the SIB, the 5.3% inflation rate observed for the first five months of 2022 is due mainly to increases in the price of products in the Transport category, particularly fuel. The prices of diesel and gasoline both increased by over 25%, with the average fuel pump prices of premium gas, regular gas, and diesel for January to May 2022 increasing by $2.94, $2.65, and $2.79 respectively when compared to the same period in 2021.

Also contributing heavily to the cumulative inflation rate were price increases for items in the Food & Non-Alcoholic Beverages category, with prices of those items rising overall by 5.4%. This can be primarily attributed to increases in the prices of cereal products, meats, cooking oils, seafood, and fresh produce. The cost of pigtails in particular rose by an astounding 59.4 percent.

In May specifically, the country saw an inflation rate of 6.6 percent—an increase from last month’s rate of 5.8 percent—also driven by the higher costs of fuel and food.

Perez also presented the overall changes in the Consumer Price Index between May 2017 and May 2022, noting that there has been an almost steady increase in prices since the year 2020:

“Looking at the trend line, it is clearly showing us how prices have been moving throughout the years—specifically starting from November of 2020 when prices started to increase heavily up to May of 2022,” he stated. 

Of all the areas of the country studied by the SIB, Orange Walk Town had the highest inflation rate so far this year (8.2%), while San Pedro Town had the lowest, 4.2%.

According to Perez, however, Belize isn’t the only place in the region that has been seeing a rise in inflation rates. Mexico and the United States showed cumulative inflation rates of 7.4% and 8.2% respectively. 

“We can see that Belize tends to follow the same movement as the United States of America and Mexico. This is so since Belize imports the majority of its goods from these two countries. So, if prices increase in the United States of America or Mexico, it will influence an increase in Belize,” he explained.

And while there has been a steady increase in the cost of goods and services, the SIB says that this year the country experienced the highest level of production for any first quarter on record, with Gross Domestic Product (GDP) increasing by BZ $61.3 million or 5.3%. This surpasses even the pre-pandemic levels of production recorded in 2019 and is a figure that the SIB arrived at, after making adjustments for the under-coverage of certain items.

The main contributor to that economic growth, reported Statistician II Christopher Hulse, was the tertiary sector, which encompasses the tourism industry along with “Transport” and “Wholesale & Retail Trade”. Production in the primary sector, which includes raw goods such as sugar, however, saw a 1% decrease—owed mainly to reduced production of certain agricultural products such as bananas and citrus, with the latter shortfall being a result of a shortage of workers. Despite this, though, sugarcane production was up by 3.2% this quarter.

Lastly, there were value increases in both imports and domestic exports. According to Ronald Orellana (Statistician II), the value of Belize’s total imports increased by $339 million or 44.6%, while exports were up by $20.1 million or 11.7%. Revenue from exports to Mexico has increased due to increased sales of cattle, while revenue from the United States increased as a result of conch and molasses exports.

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