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Nov 27, 2019

S.I.B. Releases Latest Stats on Consumer Prices and External Trade

The Statistical Institute of Belize says that the Gross Domestic Product for the last quarter grew by one point eight percent. Some of the factors that affected production levels for goods and services included climate conditions and world market prices, as well as consumer demand. If you felt that some vegetables were more expensive than others, you were right.  Vegetables such as sweet peppers and tomatoes had higher price tags – and if you live in Orange Walk, you would have felt an increase in your cost of living, despite the country experiencing an overall decrease in consumer prices.  Andrea Polanco was at today’s presentation and has more on these latest stats, including a growing import bill of one point six billion dollars.

 

Andrea Polanco, Reporting

Belize produced six hundred and sixty-three point one million dollars worth of goods and services from July to September of this year. This is eleven point five million dollars in value of goods and services, or one point eight percent growth, for the same time last year.  The SIB says that this increase in the third quarter GDP is largely as a result of activities in the secondary sector in manufacturing; transport, wholesale and retail trade increased; the extended dry spell also caused an increase in water generated; the increase in generated electricity resulted from non-hydro generation. Sugar production was up in this category by more than eighty-one metric tons due to an extended milling season; there was also increased consumer demand for soft-drink; on the other hand, petroleum extraction decreased. The primary sector, during July, August, September, Belize’s banana and cattle productions fell – resulting from drought for both commodities, as well as increase in market prices for cattle. In addition, fishing products were down by two point seven million dollars compared to 2018; that’s because the country didn’t export any conch and also recorded a seventy-six percent decrease in shrimp exports. The tertiary industries saw a seven point eight million dollar increase in production over the July to September period of last year; this is a one point nine percent growth. In total, this sector produced goods and services valued at four hundred and twenty-two point five million dollars. The tourism sector, most notably, saw a decrease in activities, by eleven percent or two point six million dollars for that period. While July-September falls in the slow season, it was notably down when compared to the same period last year. An exact reason for this is not immediately apparent, but two scenarios that played out around this time were the closure of the western border to foreign buses, as well as the murder of American tourist Gary Swank.

 

Jacqueline Sabal

Jacqueline Sabal, Statistician II, S.I.B.

“Overnight visitors to the country decreased by three point nine percent which subsequently caused a six point two percent drop in hotel room revenue. Cruise visitors also decreased during the quarter by twenty point seven percent. In examining tourist arrivals; arrivals were down as the overnight visitors to the country fell from one hundred and two thousand six hundred visitors visitors in the third quarter of 2018 to ninety-eight thousand six hundred visitors in the same period of 2019. Two thousand four hundred less American tourists visited the country; four hundred and seventy-seven less Canadian tourists and one hundred and thirty seven less tourist from the United Kingdom visited the country. Cruise passenger arrivals dropped twenty point seven percent as a total of thirteen less ship calls were made during the quarter.”

 

The overall consumer prices for the first ten months of this year, when compared to last year, were down by zero point two percent. Prices of goods and services for October 2019 were down by zero point one percent.  Fuel, rent and airfare prices were down; while education and food prices went up. The prices for vegetables, including cabbage, sweet peppers and tomatoes were up considerably; while the costs of lime and watermelon were down. Orange Walk residents paid the most for goods and services; while consumer prices were down in San Ignacio and Santa Elena, reflected in rental prices.

 

Melvin Perez

Melvin Perez, Statistician II, S.I.B.

“As lower prices were recorded in Corozal Town; Belize City; Belmopan; San Ignacio and Santa Elena Towns, however, this decrease was partially offset by a zero point eight increase in the Liquefied Petroleum gas prices and a five point two increase in electricity tariffs as the new rate applied earlier in the new year continue to take effect. When comparing, October 2018 to October 2017, a significant increase of fourteen point eight was observed. Now this is telling us that Liquefied Petroleum gas prices are now having a small increase of one dollar, while the previous year we saw an increase of almost fifteen dollars.”

 

Belize imported one point six billion dollars in goods and services for the first ten months of this year. That represents an increase of over thirty million dollars over the same period last year. Imports of manufacturing goods such as metal structures; ceramic tiles and vehicle tires increased by fourteen million dollars; minerals, fuels and lubricants increased by thirteen million dollars due to kerosene and diesel imports; free-zone imports, mostly clothing and footwear, increased by eight point three million dollars. There was also an increase in crude materials during this period. During January to October 2019, Belize’s exports were valued at three hundred and fifty-nine million dollars; an increase of seven point nine million dollars in exports. Earnings from citrus products and crude petroleum fell while banana exports are up by almost four million dollars. It was a record-breaking year for sugar exports but earnings still pale in comparison to previous years due to world market prices.

 

Tiffany Vasquez

Tiffany Vasquez, Statistician II, S.I.B.

“In 2019, with a twenty-five percent growth in exported quantities over that of 2018, we have reached the highest level on record in exported quantities of sugar. But how have we done in exported earnings? The fact is that world market prices for sugar are a far cry from what they were in earlier years. If we take 2019 and compared to 2012, for this January to October period, we notice that we are exporting twice as much sugar but earnings grew by less than one fourth.”

 

Reporting for News Five, I’m Andrea Polanco.


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