By Benjamin Flowers
Belize started off the year 2015 continuing the trend of exporting less and importing more, according to the most recent data released from the Statistical Institute of Belize.
SIB’s External Trade Bulletin for the month of January, which contains complete data, shows that exports were down by 23 percent, when compared to January of the previous year.
The drop in exports represents a $9.1 million loss in revenue, falling from $38 million in 2014, to $28.9 million. The SIB attributed the decline to the fact that there were no crude petroleum exports for January 2015; compared to the $13.1 million worth of crude petroleum in 2014.
The citrus industry also experienced a $1.5 million decline due to a drop in the export of citrus concentrate.
Some industries managed to produce increases, including marine products and bananas, which grew by $2.8 million and $1.3 million, respectively. Sugar and papayas also recorded small increases.
However, these were not sufficient to offset the fall in crude petroleum exports for the period.
The fall in oil exports reduced the amount of revenue obtained from the United /States, Belize’s biggest trading partner, by $12.1 million, down from $19.9 million during last January.
The United Kingdom, however, received an additional $3.3 million of Belize’s exports, up from $3.9 million to $7.2 million. Farm shrimp accounted for one-third of all exports destined for the United Kingdom, while Bananas accounted for the remaining two-thirds.
In imports, the country produced a 2.6 percent increase, for a value of $3.7 million, raising imports from $138 million in January 2014 to $142.6 million. The ‘Mineral Fuels and Lubricants’ category fell by $10.1 million from $26.2 million to $16.1 million, due largely to the continued decline in fuel prices, in particular, diesel.
Imports to the ‘Commercial Free Zones’ grew by $10.1 million from $18.1 million in 2014 to $28.2 million in 2015. Cigarettes accounted for a large portion of this increase, with imports of that product almost doubling from $6.6 million to $12.3 million.
“A $2 million increase in shrimp feed imports accounted for a large part of the $4.6 million growth in goods destined for the Export Processing Zones.
Notable increases of $2 million and $2.4 million also occurred from purchases of ‘Chemical Products’ and ‘Manufactured Goods’, respectively, as imports of detergents, paints, and various construction materials rose during the year,” said the SIB.