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The Statistical Institute of Belize says Exports are down and Imports are up

The tough economic constraints of the COVID-19 pandemic saw much of the nation’s export markets take a heavy hit last year resulting in severe losses in the nation’s Gross Domestic products. Industries that were affected include the Sugar, Citrus, and Livestock industries.

The Statistical Institute of Belize held its first press conference of the year on Wednesday. The virtual presentation was held to discuss the preliminary reports of the country’s three main economic indicators.  The first of the three presentations focused on Gross Domestic Products (GDP) for the fourth quarter of 2020. Statistician Jacqueline Sabal presented the findings.

Jacqueline Sabal, Statistician:For the fourth quarter months of October to December 2020 Belize produced goods and services totaling $592.6 million dollars, this represents a decrease of $89.6 million dollars or 13.1% when compared to the fourth quarter of 2019. Preliminary annual estimates for the year 2020 indicate that goods and services produced totaled 2,475.1 million dollars, this represents a decrease of 14% from 2,880.9 million dollars produced in 2019. If we take a closer look at the annual GDP from 2015 to 2020 we observe a sharp decline in overall output in the year 2020 reflecting the severe economic effects of COVID-19. Now if we assess what each sector contributes to the overall GDP the sector whose movements make the most impact is the tertiary sector. Declines in contributions of the tertiary sector to the overall GDP are clearly observed over the past year. Now looking at what each sector contributed in the fourth quarter of 2020 alone the sector with the largest contribution was again the tertiary sector which accounted for 61.4% of production. The secondary sector accounted for 15.9%, the primary sector 9.2% and the remaining 13.6% was in taxes.”

Statistician Melvin Perez spoke on the important role that the Consumer Price Index plays in economic growth when identifying inflation on specific goods over a certain period of time.

Melvin Perez, Statistician: “The inflation rate for the month of January 2021 stood at 1%, this means that overall the cost of regular purchased goods and services increased by 1% in comparison to January of 2020. Before we look at the major categories affecting the inflation rate of 1% let’s look at the all items consumer price index which summarizes all categories of good and services for the past five years with our main emphasis being the month of January we can see that January 2021 recorded a consumer price index of 101.3 and January of 2020 recorded a consumer price index of 100.2 which is why the increase for the period was 1%. This indicates that the decrease during this period was not enough to offset the increases within the various categories which we will see throughout the presentation. Looking at the trend line it is clearly showing us how prices have been increasing since January of 2016 up to January of 2021. Comparing these two periods an inflation rate of 2.9% will be recorded, this means that prices for goods and services had increased 2.9% in January of 2021 when compared to January 2016.”

Tiffany Vasquez, Statistician: “In January of this year Belize imported goods valuing $131.9 million dollars, this represented a considerable 18% decrease amounting to a drop of almost $29 million when compared to imports of January of 2020. The categories of Minerals, Fuels and Lubricants, Machinery and Transport Equipment and Commercial Free Zones declined markedly during the month. Expenditures and Mineral Fuels and Lubricants dropped by almost 50% falling from $22.2 million to $11.6 million, a downturn which was prompted by smaller imports of fuel being purchased at reduced world market prices. Importation of Machinery and Transport Equipment such as aviation equipment, pumps and vehicles dropped by 1/4 or $9.8 million dollars to $28.3 million. Goods meant for the commercial Free Zones likewise declined by approximately 1/4 , down by $6.5 million to $20.4 million with decreased imports such as clothing and handbags. A couple other categories also saw noteworthy decreases during the month. Imports of manufactured goods and other manufactures together went down by $5.1 million dollars to almost $29 million – that’s a combined 28% decrease owing to fewer purchases of metal structures, galvanized steel coils and gold jewelry.”

Another pressing point brought across by the SIB was the country’s imports and domestic exports for the first month of the year. Statistician Tiffany Vasquez took a detailed look into the decrease in domestic exports for January when compared to last year’s crippled economic activities.

Tiffany Vasquez, Statistician: “The beverages and tobacco category rose by $5 million dollars to $8.1 million, an increase due largely to imports of beer that were for the most part intended for re-export. While imports into the designated processing areas went up by $1.5 million dollars to $3.3 million due to purchases of tissue paper, metal office furniture and centrifuges. Now lets see how our domestic exports performed at the start of the year. Export earnings for January of this year remained virtually unchanged when compared to exports of January of last year as total domestic exports amounted to $16.2 million up a negligible 1.1% or $0.2 million dollars when compared to exports of January of 2020.”

SIB also noted that due to boosted exports of animal feed, earnings from Central America were up by zero point six million dollars.