SIB says Belize’s economy declined 0.8% in 2nd quarter, 2019
BELIZE CITY, Thurs. Aug. 29, 2019– The Statistical Institute (SIB) of Belize reported that the total goods and services produced by our country between April and June 2019 was down 0.8% compared to the same period last year; the numbers show that the main engines of our economy were down significantly more than that. Sugarcane deliveries were down, 4.7%; citrus production was down, 33.8%; marine exports were down, 5.3% ; electricity generation was down, 22.4% ; manufacturing was down, 3%; and construction was down, 21.9%, during the period.
The big driver of the economy at this time, tourism, did not slow down during the period, however. A significant 5.5% increase in tourist arrivals helped offset the less than stellar performances in the areas mentioned.
Overall, there was a decline of $5.8 million in our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) — $687.9 million in the 2nd quarter of 2019 compared to $693.7 million in the 2nd quarter of 2018.
The SIB report says, “Primary activities declined by 2.9 percent, due largely to lower sugarcane, citrus and banana production, while secondary activities fell by 12.9 percent, as electricity generation, manufacturing, and construction activities declined during the quarter. Tertiary activities, on the other hand, rose by 3.6 percent during the period, due to growth experienced in the wholesale and retail trade, transport and tourism industries.”
Sugarcane deliveries were down from “903.4 thousand metric tons in the second quarter of 2018 to 860.7 thousand metric tons in the second quarter of 2019, due to factory inefficiencies that resulted in a lower grinding rate”, the SIB says. Deliveries of oranges and grapefruit were down, banana production was “almost unchanged”; additionally “marine exports fell by 5.3 percent, largely due to decreases in the exports of conch, lobster meat and lobster tail”, but the “livestock industry grew 3.7 percent, boosted by a rise in both cattle and pig production, which overshadowed a 0.4 percent reduction in poultry production during the quarter,” the report said.
The SIB report says that despite decreased sugar deliveries, there was increased sugar production, by 6.4%, because the cane that reached the factory was of a high quality. Electricity generation fell during the second quarter because of the dry period, but “water production rose by 5.9 percent” because of an increase in demand. “The ‘Manufacturing and Mining’ subsector experienced an overall decline of 3 percent, the result of reduced outputs of crude petroleum, soft drinks, flour and citrus concentrate,” the report said, and the construction subsector declined because of “a substantial drop in loans.”
Our tertiary sector, which the SIB says accounts for 50% of our GDP, grew by 3.6% in April-June this year over April-June last year, with ‘Wholesale and Retail’ activities showing a 4.7% increase, while ‘Government Services’ increased by 5.2%, ‘Transport, Storage and Communication’ grew 1%, and tourist arrivals were up 5.5%, “with the total number of overnight visitors to the country up from 119,456 in the second quarter of 2018 to 126,045 in the same period of 2019,” the report said.
The increase in tourist arrivals was a boon to hotel revenues, which increased by 3.2%. Cruise ship arrivals, however, were down 2.6%. “Overall, the ‘Hotels and Restaurants’ subsector grew 2.8 percent compared to the same period last year,” the SIB said.