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Nov 30, 2017

Behind Sluggish Economic Growth in Third Quarter

The GDP grew by zero point five percent for the last quarter. As you heard on Wednesday, the SIB’s stats for the last quarter- July to September – show marginal growth when compared to the same quarter last year. At Wednesday’s press conference, the SIB also shared the latest on prices and external trade.  According to the latest release, food prices are down but importation is still in the billion-dollar range despite a drop in imports for the past ten months of this year. Andrea Polanco shares more from SIB’s press conference.

 

Andrea Polanco, Reporting

Food prices were down for last month, but overall prices were up by zero point nine percent According to the SIB, cost for transportation, houses, water, electricity, gas and other fuels all increased in October.

 

Jacqueline Sabal

Jacqueline Sabal, Statistician II, SIB

“The food and non-alcoholic categories category which decreased by zero point eight percent; the housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels category which recorded a zero point nine percent increase, as well as transport which increased by seven point eight percent. Bear in mind, these three categories hold the largest weight in the basket of goods and services. Combining approximately sixty percent in household spending; meaning that any slight movement in any of these three categories can greatly impact overall CPI.   When compared to October 2016, the point eight decrease in the food and non-alcoholic beverages was solely due to a decline in food prices. As certain meat prices fell, as well as the cost of eggs, fruits, mil and vegetables. The price per pound for ground beef fell nine point seven percent from six dollars and twenty-seven cents to five dollars and sixty-six cents; beefsteak fell six point three percent from eight dollars and fourteen cents to seven dollars and sixty-three cents; the cost of a dozen egg fell four point seven percent from three dollars and thirty-two cents to three dollars and sixteen cents; the cost of a liter of milk fell twelve point five percent from two dollars and sixty-nine cents to two dollars and thirty-six cents.  This was mainly due to a point four percent increase in home rental prices and a fourteen point nine increase in liquefied petroleum gas. In October 2016, the average cost of one hundred-pound cylinder of LPG stood at eighty-six dollars and sixty-one cents and in October 2017, it stood it ninety-nine dollars and fifty-one cents. Now, we will look at the transport index and what caused the increase in that. Since the start of the year, the transport index has been one of the main contributors to the overall rise in inflation rate. This is mainly due to inflation in the fuel and lubricant category. For the most part, the fuel and lubricant index moved almost identical to the overall transport index which means its impact was pretty large as fuel especially has been rising significantly in 2017 compared to 2016.”

 

January to October 2017, Belize’s imports were valued at one point five billion dollars – it is four percent or sixty four point six million dollars less than we imported last year. U.S.A., Mexico and China are the main sources of imports.

 

Tiffany Vasquez, Statistician II, SIB

“Marked decreases mainly across four categories: machinery and transport equipment; other manufacturers; food and live animals and export processing zones drove overall exports down over the January to October 2017 period. These were partially offset by increase in spending in minerals, fuels, lubricants, chemical products and manufacturing goods. Providing the most note-worthy offset were imports within the mineral fuels and lubricants category which grew by nineteen percent or twenty-nine million dollars to one hundred and eighty-one million dollars. As higher world market prices drove greater spending on all main imported fuels. Additionally, importation of chemical products went up by eight million dollars to one hundred and forty-seven million on account of increase purchases of antibiotics, other medicines and fertilizes.”

 

Tiffany Vasquez

According to SIB, total domestic exports for January to October 2017 was valued at four hundred and thirteen million dollars – an increase of thirteen point two percent or forty-eight point one million compared to the same period last year. Sugar and banana were top export products, while there was a decrease in citrus trade.

 

Tiffany Vasquez

“The overall positive performance of Belize’s exports was primarily due to a surge in earning from the country top commodity – sugar. Strong sales of bananas were also pivotal in the period’s increase; this was accompanied by minimal improvement of export of marine products and an uptick includes petroleum revenues. Export of citrus products on the other hand decreased over the period. As Belize’s chief export commodity, sugar alone accounted for thirty five percent of total exports benefitting greatly from higher prices on world market an increase of twenty-three percent in exported volumes of sugar prompted nearly forty percent or a forty point five million dollar growth in earnings to one hundred and forty-three million for the January to October 2017 period.”

 

Reporting for News Five, I’m Andrea Polanco.

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