Highlights — 03 August 2019
Domestic exports down 16.4% in June 2019

BELIZE CITY, Thurs. Aug. 1, 2019– The June 2019 report from the Statistical Institute of Belize (SIB) shows that the value of Belize’s domestic exports was a disappointing $29.7 million, “down 16.4 percent or $5.8 million from the $35.5 million recorded for June of 2018”, as exports from four of the five major commodities shrank during the period. Belize’s domestic exports in June (and for the entire year) started dipping five years ago, and this year is the lowest in at least fifteen years.  Statistics from the SIB show that the value of Belize’s domestic exports in June 2003 was $40.94 million.

The value of Belize’s domestic exports for June 2014 was $66.6 million, for June 2015 it was $52.7 million, for June 2016 it was $36.7 million, for June 2017 it was $38.7 million, and for June 2018 it was $ 35.5 million. Our domestic exports for June 2019, $29.7 million, is less than half the value of our domestic exports in June 2014, which was $66.6 million.

The value of sugar exports fell $7.5 million, from $10.7 million in June 2018 to $3.2 million in June 2019. The SIB attributes this substantial reduction in sugar revenues to scheduling, “as June 2018 saw bulk sugar being shipped, while only bagged sugar was exported in June 2019.”

Citrus continued its downward trend, with June 2019 production down almost 50% compared to June 2018. Citrus earnings for the month was $4.8 million, down $4.6 million compared from the $9.4 million the industry earned in June 2018. Sales of marine products fell also, from “$3.3 million in June of last year to $1.9 million in June 2019”, largely because of decreased sales of lobster and conch. Earnings from bananas “dropped slightly, from $5.2 million to $5.1 million”, and “revenues from animal feed fell…from almost $2 million in June 2018 to approximately $1 million in June 2019.”

The only bright spot for the month was crude petroleum, which recorded no sales in June 2018 and sales of $6.9 million for June 2019.

Domestic exports down 8% for period Jan-Jun 2019

As expected, SIB numbers show that total exports for the Jan-Jun period fell, with the value of exports for the period totaling $206.5 million. This is $17.9 million less (8%) than we earned between January and June last year. The value of citrus exports decreased by $16.5 million, “from $50.6 million in 2018 to $34.1 million in 2019, primarily due to an appreciable drop in exported quantities of orange concentrate, together with lowered exports of orange oil.”

Earnings from sugar and petroleum products were also down, because of depressed prices on the world markets. SIB numbers show that sugar was “down by 13.1 percent or $9.7 million, from $73.8 million to $64.1 million, even though exported quantities fell by a much smaller 7.8 percent, an indication of diminished world market prices for that commodity over the six-month period”, and petroleum earnings was down “almost $3 million, from $15.9 million in 2018 to $12.9 million in 2019, as world market prices were lower than they were during the same period last year.”

Banana earnings was up by $5.9 million, from $33.4 million during the first half of 2018 to $39.3 million in the first six months of 2019″, and “revenues from marine products went up slightly…from $14.7 million to $15.6 million, due to improved sales of shrimp along with better prices for conch over the period.”

Imports down slightly in June 2019

The Statistical Institute of Belize (SIB) report for June 2019 shows that Belize’s imports for that month was valued at $168.5 million, which is $2.3 million less than the $170.8 million worth of goods Belize imported in June of 2018. The SIB said there was decreased imports of diesel fuel and a variety of food items.

Imports of ‘Mineral Fuels and Lubricants’ declined by $4.2 million, imports in the category ‘Food and Live Animals’ went down $3.1 million, importation of goods for the ‘Commercial Free Zones’ went down $1.7 million, and imports of ‘Manufactured Goods’, such as galvanized steel coils, scaffolding and corrugated steel rods, went down by $1.4 million.

The SIB said “greater purchases of furniture and desktop computers, imports into the ‘Designated Processing Areas’ grew by a considerable $2.1 million when compared to June 2018, from $2.5 million to $4.6 million (and) the ‘Machinery and Transport Equipment’ category rose by $1.9 million, from $28.9 million in June 2018 to $30.8 million in June 2019, owing to high-value purchases such as aviation equipment, refrigerators and air conditioners.”

The SIB said Belize bought “more pine lumber, grass seeds and calcium sulphates in June of this year than it did in the same month last year”; that “the ‘Other Manufactures’ category…went up from $12.5 million in June 2018 to $13.6 million in June 2019″ because of “heightened imports of school bags…along with greater purchases of office supplies and plastic bottles”, and “larger purchases of mainly fertilizers, medicines and detergents drove imports of ‘Chemical Products’ up by $1.1 million, from $17.8 million to $18.9 million.”

Imports for first six months of 2019 up 1.9%

Belize imported $940.3 million worth of goods for the period January to June 2019, a 1.9% increase ($17.2 million) over the same period last year.

The SIB said that in the first half of this year the “‘Manufactured Goods’ category rose by $10.9 million, from $117.6 million in 2018 to $128.5 million in 2019″, because of “increased imports of iron and steel structures, carton boxes and ceramic tiles (and) the ‘Mineral Fuels and Lubricants’ category went up by $8.6 million, from $138.6 million to $147.2 million, due mostly to greater imported quantities of diesel and kerosene fuels.”

There was also greater importation of fertilizers, pine lumber, utility poles and grass seeds, food (lard, coffee creamers, soups, soybean and coconut oils) during the period.

The SIB noted decreased importation of goods in a number of categories during the period, with “the categories of ‘Other Manufactures’, ‘Machinery and Transport Equipment’ and ‘Designated Processing Areas’” all declining notably. The “‘Other Manufactures’ category fell from $73.1 million in 2018 to $67.9 million in 2019″, because of “decreased purchases of goods such as surveying instruments and gold jewelry.”

“The ‘Machinery and Transport Equipment’ category dropped from $190.7 million to $186.1 million” because of “fewer imports of fiber optic cables, telecommunications equipment and tractors” and the ‘Designated Processing Areas’ diminished by $2.8 million for the period, falling from $21.4 million in 2018 to $18.6 million in 2019, attributable to reduced purchases of parts for food processing machinery, rubber hoses and shrimp feed,” the SIB report said.

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Deshawn Swasey

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