SIB also released its initial estimates for ANNUAL IMPORTS for 2017 and the Imports side of the economy continue to show shrinkage. Merchandise imports for the year 2017 amounted to $1.8 billion, which represents a 4.1 percent or $79 million dollar decrease in total imports compared to 2016. The year’s most notable decreases were observed in the categories of ‘Machinery and Transport Equipment’, ‘Other Manufactures’ and ‘Food and Live Animals’, which together fell by a whopping $113.7 million. Items such as telecommunication parts, four-cylinder vehicles and water sealing/ filling machines saw the greatest decreases for the year. ‘Other Manufactures ‘sector also went down by $17.2 million, as the country bought less prefabricated steel buildings, plastic bottles, laboratory equipment and sports equipment as compared to 2016. Even importat ion of ‘Food and Live Animals’ declined by $13.3 million, with reductions across various food items, such as soybean meal, wheat flour and coffee. During the month of December 2017 alone, Belize imported $167.2 million dollars worth of goods; down by 0.9 percent or $1.6 million from December 2016, making 2017 Christmas not as booming as 2016’s. ‘The ‘Mineral Fuels and Lubricants’ category for December, however, rose from $17.9 million to $21.2 million, largely owing to increased kerosene purchases, which tripled in comparison to December 2016.
Exports for the year 2017 totaled $445.6 million, which reflects a 10.9 percent increase or $43.7 million dollars more than 2016. Sugar now accounts for a third of Belize’s total exports as in 2017, sugar emerged as the country’s top export earner, rising by a whopping 43.6 percent or nearly $45 million to bring in over $148 million in 2017. The increase reflects both an increase in production of sugar by 27% and more favorable world market prices for sugar. Bananas also performed better in 2017, recording a 17 percent increase in export earnings or $11.9 million, bringing total earnings to $81.8 million in 2017. Annual petroleum earnings were virtually unchanged compared to 2016 because of better world market prices for petroleum. However production of Oil continues to fall as there was a 20.3 percent drop in exported quantities as compared to 2016. Exports of marine products also continues to fall, by 1.8 Million dollars; from $41.9 million in 2016 to $40.1 million in 2017, The drop in shrimp and conch exports were steep but increased exports of lobster helped to buffer the fall. In 2017, citrus exports declined steeply by $19.6 million, from $100.1 million to $80.5 million, as sales of orange concentrate for the year were significantly lower than they were in 2016.