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Jan 31, 2019

SIB’s CPI and External Trade for December 2018

The Statistical Institute of Belize issued its Price Consumer Index and External Trade bulletins. The reports outline the cost of goods and services, as well as imports and exports in December of last year, tracking the changes from year to year. According to the S.I.B., the consumer price index shows that goods and services were down by a smidge, a zero point one percent. It may not have been felt by many households because the prices of many food items and other goods were up including fuels, LPG, rent, eggs, ground beef and other products. But the high costs were tipped by the decrease in costs of international airfares. On the trade side of things, there was an increase in exports and a decrease in imports for December. But for the entire year of 2018, Belize’s imports still stand at over one billion dollars. Reporter Andrea Polanco tells us more about those changes – sharing the overall increases and decreases in the different sectors between 2017 and 2018.


Andrea Polanco, Reporting

The SIB says that consumer prices were down by a fraction in December 2018. If you went shopping over the holidays and didn’t feel that drop in prices, that is because the decrease was minimal – a mere zero point one percent decrease in the cost of goods and services.  The costs of fuels, LPG, electricity, healthcare and rent were up for the month of December. LPG Gas prices were up by a whopping sixteen point eight percent – with a one hundred pound cylinder of LPG increasing by almost seventeen dollars – from ninety-nine dollars and twenty-five cents in December 2017 to one hundred and fifteen dollars and ninety one cents in December 2018. There was also an increase in electricity tariffs – six point four percent higher than they were in December of 2017. These high costs were offset by the decrease airfares. In December of last year, there was a five point two percent decrease in international airfares.

In the food and non-alcoholic beverages category, there was a zero point six percent decrease in prices for December. The prices of some meat products such as chicken and pig tail went down when compared to the same period in 2017. Prices for red kidney beans, sweet peppers, and limes also decreased.  Those decreases were strong enough to offset increases in prices of other goods such as ground beef, pork chops, natural milk and watermelons.

The SIB says that the prices of all other goods and services saw went up zero point nine percent in December 2018. One service that saw a big increase in this category was health care. There was a four point two percent increase in consultation fees, surgery fees and pharmaceutical products when compared to December 2017. According to the SIB, the cost of goods for the entire 2018 was up by zero point three percent when compared to 2017.

Turning to external trade, the SIB says imports went down by eight point six percent and exports were up by forty point seven percent in December of last year. During that month, Belize imported goods valued at one hundred and fifty two point eight million dollars – that is fourteen point four million dollars less than what was imported in December 2017. This resulted from a decrease in imports of machinery and transport equipment.

Goods destined for the commercial free zones went down by three point nine million dollars due to decrease in purchases of different types of bags and personal care items. Imports meant for the export processing zones also decreased by more than fifty percent.

There was an increase of about thirty percent in importation of mineral fuels and lubricants. In Dec 2018, twenty-seven point four million dollars worth was imported – that is six point two millions dollars more than what was imported in December 2017. For the entire year, the country imported goods valued at one point nine billion dollars – or almost eighty-four million dollars than what was imported in 2017.

SIB says that higher world market prices contributed significantly to the growth in imports for the year 2018. For example, the country spent almost sixty two million dollars more on mineral fuels and lubricants in 2018 when compared to 2017. The total value of Domestic exports in December of 2018 was twenty two point two million dollars. This represents a six point five million dollar increase in exports when compared to December 2017.

The SIB says that the exports were boosted by earnings from all major commodities except crude petroleum for which there were no recorded exports in December of 2017 or 2018. Exports in December saw improved sales in both conch and lobster tails; there was also increase in revenues from bananas in the sum of one point five million dollars. There was also increases in sales of grapefruit and orange concentrates in December 2018, as well as a slight increase in export revenues of sugar – by about two hundred thousand dollars.

In December the UK was Belize’s top trading partner, followed by the US and EU, CARICOM and Central America round out the top five.  Overall, merchandise exports for 2018 totalled three hundred and ninety eight million dollars – down by ten point five percent when compared to 2017.

A significant decrease in earnings from sugar attributed to reduced prices on the European market led to the decline in total domestic exports. Sugar revenues decreased by thirty five million in 2018 when compared to 2017. The SIB says that overall, citrus and bananas experienced losses in 2018. Citrus earnings were down by six point five million dollars due to decreased sales of orange oil and orange concentrated; banana export saw a slight decline of about two point seven million dollars when comparing earnings in 2018 to 2017.

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