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Aug 31, 2016

Belize Faces Recession; Economy Contracts for Second Successive Quarter

The Statistical Institute of Belize (S.I.B.) reports a continued slowdown in economic activity for the second consecutive quarter.  The agricultural sector registered a decline and the good news came from the tourism industry. The stats are part of a battery of economic statistics released at their quarterly press conference in Belize City this morning. Correspondent Aaron Humes has more.

 

Aaron Humes, Reporting

Is Belize’s economy approaching recession? While statisticians and economists are hesitant to say so, things are certainly not up to scratch.

The battery of economic statistics released by the Statistical Institute of Belize (SIB) this morning continues to paint a poor picture of Belize’s economy in broad terms.

After a two percent fall in the first quarter, from January to March, slumping agricultural activity contributed to a one point six percent tumble compared to the same period last year, from April to June. In terms of actual money, that’s fifty-nine point three million dollars less – not much, but still significant.

In the primary sector, based on agriculture and fishing, lower citrus, banana and marine production resulted in an unwanted record. Only sugar and forestry products kept the decline from being worse.

 

Jefte Ochaeta

Jefte Ochaeta, Statistician I, Statistical Institute of Belize

“There’s been a record decrease in the primary industries of twenty-six percent, mainly due to the fact that we have observed a decrease of four point six percent in agricultural production; whereas my colleague has already informed you guys, banana has been decreasing by twenty-two percent, citrus has been decreasing by twenty-five percent – we saw a decrease in orange deliveries by twenty-eight percent and an [decrease] by fifty-one percent in grapefruit deliveries; sugar cane increased by twenty-four percent. Fishing activities have been decreasing, as we observed a decrease of fifteen million dollars less in marine products.”

 

Manufacturing also suffered due to lower citrus concentrate and especially sugar production.

 

Jefte Ochaeta

“And then we saw a decrease of twelve percent in sugar production; why? Because the quality of the sugar cane delivered to the factory has been affecting the extraction of the sugar; where last year for the crop year, we observed that about eight tons – the ratio was eight tons to one; eight tons of sugar cane to produce one sugar ton, and this year it increased by two tons, so we needed ten sugar cane tons to produce one sugar ton.”

 

Belize is producing less electricity due to the dry season, but more water due to greater connections for the River Valley and Corozal District, as well as more carbonated soft drinks. Petroleum continues its decline.

In the service sector, tourism continued to be the saving grace with continued strong numbers for tourist arrivals.

 

Jefte Ochaeta

“We can see how the cruise ship visitors for the months of April to June – we recorded seven more cruise ships docking into the country, which brought overall thirty thousand more cruise ship visitors in this reference period, with regard to last year’s reference period. And the overnight stayers increased by thirteen thousand more, people visiting the country.”

 

That bump from tourism contributed to increases in hotel and restaurant usage and general internal merchandise purchasing as well as wholesale trading. But it was not enough to lift the sagging economy, which recorded its third straight year of negative growth in the second quarter.

The economic slowdown is also contributing to rising prices for goods and services and contraction in trade. Aaron Humes reporting for News Five.

 

Gross domestic product reports are done quarterly by the S.I.B.

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