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noimageThe Consumer Price Index for March is down reports the Statistical Institute of Belize, while imports saw a significant hike as did exports. The report says that the All-Items Consumer Price Index for the month of March 2015 was down 1 percent, from 103.6 to 102.6, in comparison to the same time last year, meaning that goods and services typically purchased by Belizeans were one percent cheaper. Food prices saw an average decrease of 0.8 percent, driven by lower prices for eggs, Red Kidney beans, and various fresh vegetables, including cabbage, onions, and carrots. The major drop is recorded in fuel prices in the “transport” category as they have been recorded to decrease about one third due to lower world market prices. Adding to that is an eleven percent decrease in international airfares. A marginal increase in home rental prices were offset by a 20.7 percent decline in electricity rates that followed tariff revisions that became effective in January 2015. The SIB also reports that the average price for LPG was down by more than one fourth or $33, from $126 twelve months ago to $93 in March 2015. Looking at the consumer prices by district, Dangriga recorded an overall increase with an inflation of 0.7 percent. Belmopan saw the largest average drop with an inflation rate of negative 1.7 percent.

While the SIB reports an over nine percent increase in exports in External trade, there was a 7.5 percent increase in imports for the month of March as compared to the same time last year. Belize’s total imports were valued at $175.1 million, a 7.5 percent or $12.2 million increase over the $162.9 million recorded in the same month of 2014. ‘Machinery and Transport Equipment’ imports grew by almost $7 million, from $28.7 million due to increased purchases of motor vehicles, electrical insulators and plastic molding machines. ‘Manufactured Goods’ were up by over $5 million from $19.9 million due to growth in imports of various construction supplies.

Purchases of both ‘Mineral Fuels and Lubricants’ and ‘Chemical Products’ declined during the month of March. Merchandise imports for the period January to March 2015 totaled $489.6 million, up 10.7 percent or $47.4 million over the same period last year. ‘Machinery and Transport Equipment’ contributed significantly to this growth.Imports of goods destined for the Commercial Free Zone and Export Processing Zones grew by $18.9 million and $12.9 million, respectively. Increased spending on cigarettes, clothing and textiles accounted for growth in the former, while higher purchases of shrimp feed, machinery for tobacco production and construction supplies were responsible for the increase in the latter.

Domestic exports for March 2015 totaled $ 55.7million, a $4.9 million or 9.5 percent increase compared to last March. The SIB reports that in March sugar, citrus and banana exports all recorded marked growth. Sugar exports were up by more than one-half over last March, rising by $6.5 million from $11.9 million. Citrus sales increased by $5.5 million from $7 million due entirely to higher orange concentrate exports. Banana exports grew by $4 million, rising from $6.5 million to $10.5 million. Marine products, which generally perform strongly, saw a $3.2 million drop in export earnings, due to decreased farm shrimp sales of over $2 million. There were no shipments of crude petroleum for the month of March 2015. Exports to the United Kingdom grew by $9.1 million, owing to the spike in sugar sales for the month, almost all of which was destined for that nation. Exports to the United States rose by $6.3 million, due almost entirely to the considerable increase in orange concentrate sales. On the other hand, exports to the Caricom region fell sharply by $6.9 million, due to a decline in sales of red kidney beans, while the drop in farm shrimp sales resulted in a $3.7 million decrease in exports to Mexico.

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