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Aug 30, 2017

Economy Stalls; Imports and Exports Down While Cost of Living is Up

Figures released by the Statistical Institute of Belize show that economic activity slowed down to some extent in July.  Goods and services went up slightly, while imports and exports registered a drop. The price of fuel, however, went up considerably in the past year. The rise in transport costs were attributed in large part to significantly higher airfare prices, which experienced a spike in the early part of this year.  News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

Consumer prices for the month of July were up marginally by point six percent, as Belizean households saw a slight increase in the cost of goods and services.

 

Jacquelyn Sabal

Jacquelyn Sabal, Statistician, SIB

“The inflation rate for the month of July 2017, stood at 0.6 percent.  This means that on average prices were 0.6 percent higher than they were in July 2016.  The inflation rate for the first seven months of the year 2017, stood at 1.4 percent.  As we look at the inflation rate by major categories, the food and non-alcoholic beverages category recorded a 0.7 percent decrease.  Housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels recorded a 0.4 percent increase.  The transport index recorded the largest increase at 6.3 percent and the other categories of goods and services recorded a 0.6 percent decrease.”

 

The External Trade Bulletin, on the other hand, indicates that imports and exports for the month of July are down by eight point four percent and five point three percent, respectively.

 

Tiffany Vasquez

Tiffany Vasquez, Statistician, SIB

“Falling imports within the category of machinery and transport equipment was the primary cause of the overall decline in imports.  That category dropped by almost a quarter, or sixty-eight million to two hundred and twelve million, with items such as telecommunication parts, vehicles and agricultural equipment being in greatest decline.  Additionally, imports of food and live animals fell by fifteen million to one hundred and twenty-five million, as the country imported less wheat seed and coffee over the period. Accounting for over a third of Belize’s domestic exports, sugar remains the country’s most significant export earner, having a thirty-seven percent increase in exported volume, higher prices, particularly on the European market drove earnings for that commodity up by sixty-one percent or forty-one point one million to one hundred and nine million for the January to July 2017 period.  Within the period, Belize’s banana exports performed well, growing by eleven percent or four point seven million, to forty-six point seven million.”

 

Economic activities between the months of April and June grew by one point one percent, bringing the total value of goods and services produced locally to seven hundred and thirty-seven million dollars in the second quarter.  That’s an increase of approximately eight million dollars when compared to the same period in 2016.  Perhaps the most interesting comparison is the growing cost of fuel.  Costs at the pump were compared for the same period in 2016 and 2017 and the increase is apparent.

 

Jacquelyn Sabal

“If we look at fuel prices in July 2016 and 17, premium gasoline stood at nine dollars and fifty-one cents in July 2016, to eleven dollars and four cents in July 2017.  Regular gasoline stood at nine dollars and fifty-six cents and is now at ten dollars and ten cents in July 2017, while diesel stood at eight dollars and fifty-five cents and in July 2017, it stood at eight dollars and ninety-four cents.”

 

Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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