Wednesday, July 29th, 2015. Aaron Humes Reporting: Average prices continue to fall according to the Statistical Institute of Belize (SIB) which reported today that the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for June of 2015 declined by 0.8%.
The Institute says the biggest influence was fuel prices which are much lower this year than last. The half-year inflation rate is negative 0.9%. Premium, regular and diesel fuel prices are lower by between 18 and 25 percent and international airfares also declined by a quarter. LPG and electricity also recorded decreases.
Food prices declined marginally by 0.1 percent on average when compared to the same period of last year. The most significant drop was recorded in the prices of Red Kidney beans, which declined by more than one third compared to 12 months ago. This was offset by increased prices in both pork and beef products.
Dangriga was the only municipality to record an increase in consumer prices, with an inflation rate of 1.9 percent for the month, while Belmopan had the greatest decrease on average, recording inflation of negative 1.8 percent during the month.
Turning to external trade, Belize imported three and a half times the value of its exported goods – $189.2 million vs 52.6 million. Imports and exports grew inversely, the former expanding by 20 percent and the latter declining by 21 percent. Machinery, transport equipment, manufactured goods, food and live animals represented the greatest growers due to more purchases of sailboats, airplanes, construction supplies, and wheat seed.
There was less fuel imported. For the half-year nearly $1 billion in goods was imported into Belize, led by the above categories; while there was an overall increase in fuel purchases less money was spent on it.
Belize’s main exports continued to decline, including citrus and orange concentrate, marine products and crude petroleum, with only sugar seeing an increase. The low turnouts for citrus and marine products are being blamed on a delayed crop and change to reaping practices and the onset of the Early Mortality Syndrome (EMS) in farm shrimp, which halved earnings. Citrus is expected to rebound in the coming months.
The sugar market is shifting toward the United States, which bought $21 million in Belizean sugar, and away from the United Kingdom which bought $14 million less. Exports to Mexico were affected by the shrimp problem while the European Union bought less orange concentrate. $304 million of goods were exported in the first half of 2015, $37 million less than the $341 million exported during the same period in 2014.
Crude petroleum contributed greatly to that decline, with earnings dropping sharply by almost $33 million from $51 million to $18 million during the period.
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