Today, the Statistical Institute of Belize held its first statistics conference for 2020. At the conference, they presented the statistics for the fourth quarter of 2019 along with some statistics of January 2020. We can tell you that Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for the fourth quarter of 2019 was down by 2.8% which is $19 million when compared to 2018. Within the GDP the agriculture sector suffered a loss of $5.5 million, this represents a decrease of 6.6%. According to Jacqueline Sabal, Statistician, this loss is associated with t he drought that impacted Belize last year.
Jaquelin Sabal, Statistician: “In terms of agriculture banana output decreased from 25.1 thousand metric tons in the fourth quarter of 2018 to 22.9 thousand metric tons in the fourth quarter of 2019. Unfavorable dry weather conditions during the later part of 2019 resulted in this 8.5% drop in production. In the case of sugar cane production again dry weather conditions resulted in underdeveloped sugar cane that could not be harvested causing a late start to the season. As a result no sugar cane was produced during the fourth quarter months of 2019. Citrus production also declined during the fourth quarter by a significant 6.4 thousand metric tons, this is the effect of a late start to the harvesting period from the first crop of oranges during the year also the fruits being harvested are smaller in size- the combined effect of prolonged dry weather conditions and citrus greening which the industry continues to fight.”
While the agriculture sector suffered a loss the fishing industry experienced a growth of 14.7% or $1.6 million when compared to the fourth quarter of 2018. Moving on to the consumer price index for January 2020 the SIB recorded an increase of 0.2% in the inflation rate. This means that the cost of regularly purchased goods and services Increases by 0.2%. SIB Statistician, Melvin Perez, broke the figures down by municipalities.
Melvin Perez, Statistician: “At the municipality level it can be clearly seen that Orange Walk Town experienced the highest monthly increase in consumer prices with an inflation rate of 2.6%. Consumers in this town saw an above average increase in prices for home rental cost and maintenance and repair of personal vehicles. Meanwhile in the south Dangriga Town experienced the lowest inflation rate with prices going down by 2.1% as consumers in this town saw greater than average reduction in food items, entrance fee to sporting events and women’s clothing.”
While Belize had an Inflation rate of 0.2% looking at it from a regional perspective we had the second-lowest inflation rate. The highest being Jamaica with an inflation rate of 5.2% and the lowest being El Salvador with an inflation rate of -0.1. Finally, Belize’s domestic exports had an increase of $17.9 million or 4.6% compared to the year 2018. The Merchandise imports for the year 2019 amounted to $1.97 billion, representing a 2.9 percent increase when compared to 2018.