Wednesday, July 24, 2024

SIB’s April report shows decline in exports and increase in consumer prices

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The April report from the Statistical Institute of Belize (SIB) notes that domestic exports declined by 13.6%, or $6.2 million, compared to the same period last year. According to the report, the sugar and banana products reflected the decrease in exports. In comparison, consumer prices rose by 5.8%. The areas/services affected included vehicle fuels, food, and Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG).

According to the SIB report, transportation prices increased by 16.8% in April due to rising fuel prices. The rising fuel prices are considered the most significant contributor to the overall national current inflation. The report noted that fuel costs were 25% higher than in April 2021. The report said one of the most used petrol products, diesel, was up by 35%.

When it comes to food, the increase in prices was noted at 7.1% for April. The inflation mainly affected the prices of fresh vegetables, cereal products, meats, cooking oils, fish, and other seafood products. In detail, the items that saw notable increases during the month included tomatoes, cabbages, Irish potatoes, sweet peppers, watermelons, coconut oil, vegetable oil, pigtail, poultry products, rice, and flour. Other cost increases included housing, water, electricity, gas, and other fuels. These items for April saw an overall inflation rate of 2.9%, primarily due to higher LPG prices. These were up by 29%, with the average price of a hundred-pound cylinder rising by $33.93, from $115.66 in April 2021 to $149.59 in April of this year. In addition, prices for construction materials for household use increased by 14.2%. The SIB indicated that these increases overshadowed small reductions in home rental costs and electricity tariffs, which were down by 0.5 percent and 3.5 percent, respectively, from April of last year.

Exports declined

While exports suffered a decline, imports increased by 53.3%. This resulted from greater purchases of mineral fuels and lubricants, machinery and transport equipment, food and live animals, and manufactured goods.

Among Belize’s major exports, sugar and bananas were hit hard, triggering the downturn in the total domestic exports during April. The SIB reports that revenues from sugar were down by almost three-fourths, which equals $17.3 million. The reason was linked to no bulk shipments in April. The bananas exports revenues dropped by $1.8 million, from $9.1 million in April 2021 to $7.3 million in the same month. Other products like pepper sauces, exports fell by $0.2 million, from $1 million to $0.8 million. It was the same case with sales of black-eyed peas for April; they were down by $0.2 million, from $0.8 million to $0.6 million.

To address the burden inflation is having on specific industries in the country, agencies like BELTRAIDE have organized forums aimed at exploring new approaches. These practices are expected to enhance Belize’s export competitiveness. On Thursday, May 26th, a conference was held in Belize City to develop a road map and empower companies to become competitive in regional and international markets. The workshop also touched on new product development, technology, and financing. According to the organizers, it was a productive activity where they collected feedback from participants while chartering a way forward for the export sector to grow, develop and take advantage of the many market opportunities available.

The SIB’s primary function is to collect, complete, extract, analyze, and disseminate official statistics of Belize. To find out more about their reports, visit www.sib.org.bz/statistics.

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