The Statistical Institute of Belize (SIB) has released its third-quarter gross domestic product estimates; the October Consumer Price Index; inflation rate and the January to October merchandise trade estimates. The Deputy Director General of the SIB, Diana Castillo says the economy grew by 3.3 percent.
Diana Castillo-Trejo Deputy Director General, SIB: “In terms of the GDP, the economic performance, we estimate that for the 3rd quarter the economy grew by %3.3 and this was mainly due to two sectors: the Primary sector which was fishing and livestock that saw the most increases and the Tertiary sector which is in particular Tourism, transport, wholesale and retail trade. We saw decrease in terms of the Secondary sector which is a drop off in Petroleum extraction and also a reduction in electricity generation and there was more slow down in construction as well. In terms of inflation rates we had for the month of October consumer prices going up by 0.8% that is in comparison to last October so the same items in last October compared to this October they cost 0.8% more this October and the main items we are looking at here that caused the increase are an increase in home rental cost, an increase in electricity rates and an increase in fuel prices. Finally for external trade we estimate that for the first ten months of the year we imported 1.6 billion dollars worth of goods and this was increased by 87 million dollars compared to the same ten months last year and in terms of exports we exported 355.1 million dollars worth of goods and that is down by almost 58 million dollars. In terms of imports the main cause of the increase was an increase in the cost of fuels and lubricants which is due to higher oil prices for fuels. For exports we saw a big drop in Sugar earnings and that was the main cause of the decrease in exports for that period.
The total value of goods and services produced during this period was 670 million, an increase of 21.2 million from 649.7 million produced in the third quarter of 2017. Food and non-alcoholic beverages went down by -0.9 percent, transport went up by 1 percent; and housing, water, electricity gas and other fuels went up by 1.5 percent. The Deputy Director General of the SIB indicated tourism arrivals and flights have boosted the economy while the cost of fuel had an impact on households.
Diana Castillo-Trejo Deputy Director General, SIB: The bright spot throughout the course of this year has been in services; particularly in Tourism. We see that there are continuous increases in the number of Cruise Ship calls and the number of direct flights to Belize and this has shown in terms of the number of Tourist arrivals. So services make up a such a big part of the economy and when that grows, it helps to boost the economy significantly. So a big part of what we see in terms of growth for this quarter had to do with the boost that we got in services particularly in Tourism. One of the other areas that stands out is that consumers do face a very continued increase in the cost of things like fuel which is of course a big part of our monthly budget. So fuel prices are one challenge for consumers and we saw in the presentation there they have been trending continuously upwards. Despite some volatility and some variants that fuel prices have trended continuously upwards as well as LPG which is butane, another regular household consumption item so I think those are maybe the bright spots and sort of the weak spots I guess you could say.
All the information released was by the Statistical Institute of Belize which held its regular quarterly press conference today at the Central Bank. One of the presenters, Angelita Campbell went over the GDP figures for past five years.
Angelita Campbell: “Belize produced goods and services total in $670.9 million for 3rd quarter of 2018 indicating an increase of $ 21.2 million or 3.3% when compared to the same period of last year. The first 9 months of the year the production was at 3.6% higher than the same period of 2017. Now we are looking at the 3rd quarter at constant prices and growth rate over the last five years. When I say constant prices I am referring to prices adjusted for inflation. We are looking at 2013 to 2014 and we see an increase of roughly 6% and this was due to the boom in Agricultural Fishing and Hotel and Restaurant Industry. We see an increase in 2015 from $642.4 million to $657.8 million and that was increase of roughly $15.4 million and this was due to increased production in electricity, water, construction, wholesale and retail sectors. In 2016 we see a decline of 1.2% and that was due to a drop in primary activities at about 23% and moving onto 2017 we had a marginal decrease and now we are here in 2018 at a 3.3% increase in production. Main contributed industries to the growth of 3.3% are Agriculture hunting and Fishing Industry contributing 2.7%, Wholesale and Retail Trade contributing 1% and Hotel and Restaurant contributing about 0.6%.