By Hugh O’ Brien: Yesterday, the Statistical Institute of Belize (SIB) released its official report on Belize’s economy. The figures show that Belize’s economy continue on a downward trend since January 2016.
For the third successive quarter, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) showed negative growth. In the first quarter, there was a contraction of 0.2%, the second quarter’s contraction was 1%, and now the third quarter figures show a contraction of 0.8%.
This is the first time since 2007/2008 that there has been three successive quarters of contraction in the GDP. After two successive quarters of GDP decline, Belize is considered to be officially in recession.
According to the SIB, the contraction was most severe in the primary sector, which registered an overall decline of 24%. Almost all major industries in the primary sector declined in production. Marine products led the way with a 61% fall in exports primarily due to the challenges facing the shrimp industry. Banana exports fell by 14% and sugar experienced a small decline. Livestock production was the only silver lining in the sector, registering a 7% growth due to increases in cattle, poultry and pig production.
The secondary sector, led by growth in electricity, water and beverage production, recorded a 2% growth. Tertiary activities, which drives over half of Belize’s economy, grew by 1.9% and this growth was driven mostly by the provision of accommodation and food to the 12,000 more overnight visitors to Belize during the third quarter.
Growth in the secondary and tertiary activities, however, was not enough to make up for the massive decline in primary activities, and as such there was an overall decrease of 0.8% or $5.6 million in the total goods and services produced by Belize in the third quarter of 2016.