General — 05 December 2018 — by Courtney Menzies
Imports up, exports down in October 2018

BELIZE CITY, Wed. Nov. 28, 2018– The Statistical Institute of Belize (SIB) today held its last press conference for the year, at which they spoke of the trends in the country’s trade for the third quarter. In terms of external trade, according to Statistician II, Tiffany Vasquez, imports were valued at over $193 million, an increase of 14.4%, or $24.3 million, in October 2018 compared to October 2017, when the imports had totaled $168.7 million.

Purchases of imported products in the “Mineral Fuels and Lubricants” and “Chemical Products” categories contributed greatly to the increase in imports. Purchases of mineral fuels and lubricants rose by 71%, or $12.4 million, from $17.5 million to $29.9 million, because of larger quantities of regular and diesel fuels being imported, compounded by higher world market prices for all fuels.

Additionally, no premium fuel was imported last October, while there were imports of that fuel this year.

Purchases of products in the “Chemical Products” category rose by $7.4 million, from $13.5 million to $20.9 million, because of substantial purchases of fertilizers for the month.

The amount of money spent on imported items which fall under the “Commercial Free Zones” category rose by $4.2 million, from $31.6 million to $35.8 million, due to larger purchases of cigarettes, women’s clothing, and footwear.

Imports of “Food and Live Animals” rose from $20.8 million to $22.9 million due to the increase in purchases of lard (shortening), margarine, and infant cereal, compared to last October.

While most imports for the country were up, there was a decrease of $1.9 million, from $15.4 million to $13.5 million, in imports in the category of “Other Manufactures”, as a result of fewer purchases of metal furniture, medical equipment, and laboratory plastics.

Domestic exports went down from $37.1 million in last October to $35.2 million, a decrease of 5.1% or $1.9 million. This decrease was primarily due to a decrease in the exports of sugar, from $9.4 million to $2.2 million.

Exports of citrus and bananas remained nearly unchanged, with the earnings from exports of these commodities being $3.1 million and $8.9 million respectively.

Exports of marine products, however, grew by $1.4 million, from $4.4 million to $5.8 million. This was mainly due to strong sales of conch during the month of October. Exports of crude petroleum also rose by 39%, from $6.3 million to $8.7 million.

Although red kidney beans are not considered a major export, there was a sharp increase in revenues from foreign sales of this commodity — from $0.1 million to $1.2 million.

Due to the decline in sugar exports, earnings from the UK fell by 40.1%, from $11.4 million to $6.8 million, while earnings from the US fell by 44.2%, from $9.6 million to $5.4 million. Export earnings from CARICOM grew by 37.2%, or nearly $4 million, from $10.6 million to $14.6 million, because of boosted returns from crude petroleum exports to the region.

First ten months of the year

(Imports) From January to October 2018, merchandise imports amounted to $1.6 billion, an almost $87 million increase from the same period last year.

The greatest contributor to this increase was the higher world market prices for fuel, resulting in a 25%, or nearly $47 million, increase in money spent on “Mineral Fuels and Lubricants.” Imports in this category went from $186.7 million in 2017 to $233.7 million.

A rise in imports of aviation equipment, telecommunications equipment, and four-cylinder vehicles also caused a $25.3 million increase in the “Machinery and Transport Equipment” category, from $305.3 million to $330.6 million.

Imports of items in the “Commercial Free Zones” category also rose, from $246.3 million to $261.6 million because of an increase in imports of bags, cigarettes, and clothing such as sports uniforms and sweaters.

Imports of “Food and Live Animals” went up by $6.3 million, from $178.7 million to a little over $185 million, because of increased imports of lard (shortening), vitamin supplements, coffee, and other food items. Increased purchases of fertilizers and herbicides resulted in an almost $3 million rise in importation of “Chemical Products,” from $146.5 million to $149.5 million.

A spike in imports of liquor caused an increase in the “Beverages and Tobacco” category, from $29.2 million to $31.1 million. Increased purchases of parts for food processing and filtering machines, along with temperature-altering equipment caused imports in the “Export Processing Zones” to rise by $1.9 million, from $31.4 million to $33.3 million.

Imports of “Other Manufactures” saw a decrease from just above $136 million to $126.3 million because of reduced imports of laboratory plastics, prefabricated steel buildings and gaming machines. Imports of “Crude Materials” fell by $5.3 million, from $29.5 million to $24.2 million, due to fewer purchases of grass seeds, asphalt, and pine lumber.

(Exports) Merchandise exports for the same period, January to October 2018, totaled $355.1 million, down 14% or $57.9 million.

The substantial drop in earnings from sugar was the main reason for the decrease in export revenues. While the exported volumes of sugar were virtually unchanged, earnings from the major export decreased by almost 26% or $38.3 million, from $147.7 million to $109.4 million, as a result of reduced prices, particularly on the European market.

Exports of citrus products fell by 10.5%, from $75.2 million to $67.3 million, due to diminished sales of orange oil and orange concentrate. Banana revenues also fell by 7.4%, from $70.5 million to $65.2 million.

Marine product exports totaled $31.9 million, growing slightly due to sales of conch and lobster tails, which offset decreased shrimp earnings. The crude petroleum sector also had a $1.9 million increase in earnings, going from $22.7 million to $24.6 million despite a 25.2% drop in exported volumes, because prices for that product remained favorable over the period.

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