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Wednesday, April 14, 2021
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SIB report on state of economy

Belize’s GDP contracted 14% in 2020
Preliminary estimates from the SIB show that our annual GDP, the total value of goods and services produced in the country, fell “from $2,880.9 million in 2019 to $2,475.1 million in 2020”. The SIB says the greatest contraction was in the second quarter, with a drop of 23%, “mainly due to decreases within the services sector.”

Fourth Quarter Report
2020 4th Qtr. GDP is 13.1% less than in same period in 2019
Estimates of the Statistical Institute of Belize are that the total value of goods and services produced within Belize in the 4th quarter of 2020 “stood at $592.6 million, down $89.6 million from $682.2 million produced in the fourth quarter of 2019.” The SIB says the services sector decreased by 18.8% in the 4th quarter, and there were significant decreases in the ‘Wholesale and Retail Trade’, ‘Transport, Storage and Communication’, and ‘Taxes on Products’ categories, but the output in the agricultural industries grew by 0.6%, and increased production in the Electricity and Water industries helped expand output in the secondary sector by 22.5%.

Primary sector grew 0.6% in fourth quarter.
Production in this sector grew by $0.3 million, “to a total of $54.3 million during the fourth quarter of 2020, when compared to the same period in 2019.” Banana production in the 4th quarter of 2020 increased by 20.6% over production in the 4th quarter of 2019, “from 22,900 metric tons in the fourth quarter of 2019 to 27,700 metric tons in the fourth quarter of 2020.” The SIB reports, “16,700 metric tons of sugarcane were delivered during the fourth quarter of 2020, in contrast to 2019, when no sugarcane was harvested during this same period”; citrus fruit deliveries increased by 28%, from 2,500 metric tons in 2019 to 3,100 metric tons in 2020; “cattle production increased by 20.8 percent from 8,600 heads in the fourth quarter of 2019 to 10,400 heads in the fourth quarter of 2020”; poultry production fell 3.3%; pig production fell 14.2%; and the value of marine products sold was down by 42.3%, “due to a sizeable drop in both shrimp and lobster meat exports.”

Secondary sector grew 22.5% in fourth quarter.
Driven by the electricity industry, output in this sector totaled $94 million in the 4th quarter of 2020, up 22.5% or $17.3 million over the same period in 2019. Electricity production, with hydroelectricity boosted by water dumped on Belize by hurricanes, grew by 142.3%, but water consumption decreased by 7.4%.

The report says “construction activities grew by 7.1%, as evidenced by an increase in loans for building and construction as well as a rise in cement imports”, but the ‘Manufacturing and Mining’ industry decreased by 11.2%, and beverage production continued to suffer because of a lack of tourist visitors. Beer production fell 15.3%, soft drink production increased 1%, flour production was down 18.2%, and production of crude petroleum fell 24.6%; however, citrus concentrate production increased by 18.4%, and 700 metric tons of sugar was produced in 2020, compared to none in 2019.

Tertiary sector down 18.8% in 4th quarter of 2020.
“The tertiary sector, which accounted for 61.4 percent of total GDP during the fourth quarter of 2020, was the main cause of the overall decline in output. Production of services totaled $363.7 million, down 18.8 percent or $84.4 million from $448 million in the fourth quarter of 2019.” (SIB)

The ‘Wholesale and Retail Trade’ industry contracted by 22.1%. Additionally, overnight tourist arrivals were down by 85.6 percent in comparison to the fourth quarter of 2019 — plunging from approximately 120,000 visitors to just 17,000 visitors. With land, sea and air transportation interrupted, the ‘Transport, Storage and Communication’ industry declined by 20.4%; and “‘Government Services’ declined by 3.3 percent.”

JANUARY 2021 REPORT
Domestic exports up 1.1% in January
The SIB reported that Belize’s domestic exports “for January 2021 amounted to $16.2 million, up a negligible 1.1 percent or $0.2 million when compared to exports for January 2020, which were valued at $16 million”, with sugar earnings of $1.3 million “virtually unchanged when compared to exports of last January”, thanks to “improved prices for sugar on the world market”, and revenues from animal feed exports grew “from $0.4 million in January 2020 to over $2 million in January 2021.”

Earnings from marine products declined, “falling from $4.3 million in January 2020 to $2.7 million in January 2021, due mainly to an almost 50% reduction in exported quantities of lobster tails during the month”, citrus earnings fell “from $2.4 million to $1.9 million, the result of decreased exports of orange concentrate and lower world market prices for this commodity”, and earnings from banana exports also fell, “from $5.7 million in January of last year to $5.5 million in January 2021.”

Imports for January down 18%
The SIB reported that Belize imported goods valuing almost $131.9 million in January, “an 18% or a $29 million decrease from the same month in 2020, when imports totaled $160.8 million.”

Smaller imports of fuel and reduced prices on the world market resulted in a 48% decrease in expenditure in the ‘Mineral Fuels and Lubricants’ category, “from $22.2 million in January 2020 to $11.6 million in January 2021”. The total amount spent on purchases of ‘Machinery and Transport Equipment’ went down by “one-fourth or $9.8 million, from $38.1 million to $28.3 million”; imports into the ‘Commercial Free Zones’, fell “from $26.9 million to $20.4 million”; and there was less importation of metal structures and carton boxes, which led to expenditure in the ‘Manufactured Goods’ category shrinking “from $22.6 million in January 2020 to $18.8 million in January 2021.”

Belize imported less lard, canned meats and margarine in January, so we expended $2.4 million less in the ‘Food and Live Animals’ category, down “from $17 million in January 2020 to $14.6 million in January 2021”; and less purchases of gold jewelry and wrist watches led to a decline in imports in the ‘Other Manufactures’ category, down “from $11.5 million to $10.2 million.”

Belize imported $5 million more in goods, mostly beer, in the ‘Beverages and Tobacco’ category, with the value of imports in this category rising “from $3.1 million in January 2020 to $8.1 million in January 2021”; however, most of the beer imported “was meant for re-exportation.” The ‘Designated Processing Areas’ category “rose from $1.9 million to $3.3 million, on account of higher purchases of tissue paper, metal office furniture and centrifuges.”

Earnings from major destinations in January 2021
In the month of January, earnings from Central America was up from “$0.6 million in January 2020 to $2.3 million in January 2021, due largely to heightened exports of animal feed”. Also, earnings from the UK, because of more purchases of bananas, “rose from $2.7 million in January 2020 to $3.5 million in January 2021”, but earnings from the European Union fell “from $4.3 million to $3.8 million, owing to reduced exports of bananas”, and earnings from the USA, because of nil exports of oranges and commodities made of wood, declined “from $3.7 million to $2.8 million.”

Consumer Prices up 1% in January
Statisticians at the SIB reported that in the month of January 2021, the total value of purchases in the ‘Food and Non-Alcoholic Beverages’ category increased notably by 5.7%, with the ‘Food’ sub-category “rising by 6.5% compared to January of last year”. Higher prices were “observed for tomatoes, red kidney beans, natural milk, cabbages, rice, watermelons, potatoes, onions, sweet peppers, whole chickens, and flour”, while there was a decrease in prices “for ground beef, pork chops, beef steak and plantains.”

There was a rise in home rental costs, by 1.6%, and the cost of a hundred-pound cylinder of LPG went up by $7.26. The cost of goods in the ‘Personal Care, Social Protection and Miscellaneous Goods and Services’ category went up by 2.2%, with personal hygiene products increasing by 2.7%. The cost of transportation went down “by 3.1% for the month of January 2021 when compared to January 2020, and lowered prices at the fuel pumps saw prices in the ‘Fuels and Lubricants’ sub-category go down by 8.8%.”

Hotel accommodation rates were down 24.4%, leading to a significant drop of 12.8% for the month of January 2021 when compared to January 2020 in the ‘Restaurants and Accommodation Services’ category.

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