Economic statistics: more buying, less selling

On Wednesday the Statistical Institute of Belize (SIB) offered a last batch of statistics on economic and social services for 2014, up to October.

The news is encouraging in most sectors but disappointing in others. We begin with the 3rd Quarter Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which grew by 4.8%, about half the record figure of 8.7% seen in the second quarter. Cumulative economic growth through September stands at 4.2%, led by increased output in the agriculture and fishing sector, hotels and restaurants and water distribution. Petroleum, electricity generation, flour production and construction declined.

One area that has seen sharp increase has been production of beverages: beer, rum and soft drinks. Statistician Jefte Ochaeta says that is due to high demand, not only locally, but to complement increase tourism arrivals.

Trends in external trade remain much the same, with Belize buying more than it sells. Already Belize has imported close to $1.6 billion of goods in the first ten months of 2014 while exporting just over $540 million.

After a slow-down in exports of sugar due to the unusually late start to the seasonal crop, exports to the U.K. are back up.

Fuel imports from Curacao, which refines the petroleum imported from Venezuela, were down in October due to less demand for diesel fuel.

The decline in petroleum exports continues, dropping another $40 million year over year, with citrus concentrate and papaya sales also down.

Meanwhile, inflation has remained steady at 0.7% increase in October. San Ignacio/Santa Elena continues to record the highest inflation rate by municipality at 1.6%; Corozal Town is lowest at 0.1%.

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