Other statistics released today was that of the External Trade for the month of August. The figures dictates that imports for August to Belize were valued at a total of $158.5 million, increasing by over $11 million or 7.6 percent from $147.3 in August of 2013. This increase was due entirely as a result of imports of ‘Food and Live Animals’ and ‘Chemical Products’, which rose by $5.9 million and $5.5 million, respectively. Imports of ‘Manufactured Goods’, in particular building cement, were down by over $3 million from last August. The value of goods going into the commercial free zones also declined by $1.6 million, even as imports destined for the export processing zones increased by $1.7 million during the month. The first eight months of this year, imports totalled $1.3 billion, growing by almost $80 million or 6.5 percent compared to the same period in 2013. ‘Machinery and Transport Equipment’ increased by almost the same amount, boosted by purchases of vehicles for personal use and for the transportation of goods.
Turning into domestic exports, the figures show that earnings for August were valued at $74.4 million, rising by more than $20 million or 38.8 percent in comparison to the same month last year. Sugar exports for the month more than tripled to $34 million and accounted for almost a half of total earnings for August. Marine exports, boosted by shrimp and lobster sales, rose by $1.4 million to $10.6 million, while earnings from bananas rose by just under $1 million to $7.4 million. Petroleum exports, continuing the downward trend of recent years, fell by $2.5 million to $12.2 million during the month. The report reveals that with sugar exports bound primarily for the United Kingdom, this country overtook the United States as Belize’s largest source of export earnings. These two countries together accounted for 8 out of every 10 dollars earned from merchandise exports during August, with goods sold to the United Kingdom valued at $37.9 million and those sold to the United States totalling $20.7 million. Goods exported during the period January to August 2014 totalled $464.3 million, almost $35 million less than in the same period in 2013.
Diminishing crude petroleum exports were responsible for the greatest portion of this decline. Of the other three major exports, only sugar was able to slightly surpass its earnings for the first eight months of 2013, growing from $107.1 million to $108.9 million. Both bananas and orange concentrate were down for the period, the former falling from $58.6 million to $56.6 million and the latter from $81.1 million to $74.1 million.
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