BELIZE’S TRADE STATUS

Belize’s export-reach has reached to over eighty (80) countries in the last five years, from large traditional markets like the UK and the USA, to growing markets like Hong Kong, Egypt and Pakistan, and even on to smaller markets like St Maarten, Aruba and Swaziland. Like in most developing countries, the import trade exceeds the level of export trade due to the level of industrialization and market size in the national economy.

As the graph below indicates, export revenues climbed from BZ $400 Million at the turn of the century and peaked close to BZ $700 Million in 2012, this was supported by existing vibrancies in key industries such as Sugar, Citrus, Bananas, Shrimp and Petroleum. With the gradual waning of Petroleum extraction and production in Shrimps, Bananas and Citrus, export figures have declined to over $500 M in 2015 and slipping even lower in 2016. During that same period import trade has been on a steady growth plane from about $1Billion and peaking at $1.7 Billion in 2015.

A synopsis of Belize’s export trade markets in 2016 indicates the UK and the US have absorbed about 64% of Belize’s goods. Traditionally, these two markets are, and continue to be the most significant import trade partners for Belize. With the decline of Petroleum, Papayas and other key crops, the UK has overtaken the US to be Belize’s biggest importer.

Other growing importing countries are the other EU countries such as: Ireland, the Netherlands, Germany and Spain, CARICOM member states, and Central America.

Belize’s is still considered a vulnerable economy with a small export basket of Goods. As the chart proves, more than 1/2 of all exports is dependent on two markets: the US and the UK. Along with the other 5 top importers, they are responsible for almost 90% of importation of Belizean goods.

Belize is a member of CARICOM and has duty free access to the 13 members of the common single market. Also the duty-free access for most goods into the EU under the EU-CARIFORUM Agreement, and preferential treatment that exists for the United States under the Caribbean Basin Initiative, provide significant market access that have not been fully exploited as yet. A Partial Scope Agreement with Guatemala also opens up a key market to Guatemala – the doorway to the larger Central America market.

Belize Main Export Partners 2016 (BZ$)

  • United Kingdom $138,547,399
  • United States $94,609,896
  • Jamaica $26,950,704
  • Barbados $26,628,087
  • Netherlands $23,044,432
  • Ireland $22,561,813
  • Trinidad & Tobago $19,515,715
  • Spain $10,338,890
  • Puerto Rico $8,261,018
  • Guatemala $5,611,552
  • Germany $4,035,630
  • The Others $21,820,323
TOP Export Partners 2014 % OF 2014 ‘s 2015 % OF 2015 ‘s 2016 % OF 2016 ‘s
UNITED KINGDOM $172,669,610 28.10% $163,364,575 30.45% $138,547,399 34.47%
UNITED STATES $135,104,224 21.99% $164,826,363 30.72% $94,609,896 23.54%
JAMAICA $28,554,609 4.65% $23,554,081 4.39% $26,950,704 6.71%
BARBADOS $78,378,419 12.76% $40,214,877 7.49% $26,628,087 6.63%
NETHERLANDS $33,146,780 5.39% $16,844,450 3.14% $23,044,432 5.73%
IRELAND $25,530,764 4.16% $28,663,593 5.34% $22,561,813 5.61%
TRINIDAD & TOBAGO $27,553,407 4.48% $26,914,249 5.02% $19,515,715 4.86%
SPAIN $4,705,547 0.77% $7,327,996 1.37% $10,338,890 2.57%
PUERTO RICO $7,068,903 1.15% $4,162,040 0.78% $8,261,018 2.06%
GUATEMALA $9,321,916 1.52% $7,480,540 1.39% $5,611,552 1.40%
GERMANY $2,344,085 0.38% $5,732,964 1.07% $4,035,630 1.00%
Totals $524,378,265 85.35% $489,085,728 91.15% $380,105,136 94.57%
The Others $90,040,802 14.65% $47,501,349 8.85% $21,820,323 5.43%
Total Trade $614,419,067 100.00% $536,587,077 100.00% $401,925,459 100.00%

Unfortunately there are only a handful of key products that account for most of Belize’s export basket and the foreign revenues attached. Sugar, Bananas and Orange juice continue to dominate strongly; some levels of export diversification is emerging however, with increased production of Grains, Beans, Animal Feed, Woods and Marine products.

TOP Exported Products 2014 % OF 2014 ‘s 2015 % OF 2015 ‘s 2016 % OF 2016 ‘s
Raw Sugar, mollasses $116,046,169 18.89% $140,780,106 26.24% $110,149,380 27.41%
Orange juice, $83,159,275 13.53% $82,647,946 15.40% $79,172,986 19.70%
Bananas, fresh. $91,178,278 14.84% $97,791,169 18.22% $69,910,816 17.39%
Shrimps, prawns, $88,466,472 14.40% $59,672,634 11.12% $12,682,622 3.16%
Petroleum oils $102,258,637 16.64% $36,381,767 6.78% $22,483,068 5.59%
Lobster, sea crawfish, crabs $15,700,387 2.56% $19,446,877 3.62% $18,311,295 4.56%
Papaws (papayas), fresh $13,262,168 2.16% $13,037,457 2.43% $3,922,363 0.98%
Pig, Cattle feed, other $24,944,414 4.06% $11,885,287 2.21% $10,175,258 2.53%
Essential oils, of citrus $7,710,352 1.25% $11,492,272 2.14% $8,601,903 2.14%
Red kidney beans $9,440,754 1.54% $10,203,737 1.90% $8,272,260 2.06%
Grapefruit juice $7,977,901 1.30% $7,514,271 1.40% $9,515,247 2.37%
Mahogany, Cedar, Others $6,059,874 0.99% $7,406,963 1.38% $8,079,003 2.01%
Conch, Other molluscs $4,190,817 0.68% $7,006,104 1.31% $8,165,908 2.03%
Total $570,395,496 92.83% $505,266,590 94.16% $369,442,111 91.92%
The Others $44,023,571 7.17% $31,320,487 5.84% $32,483,348 8.08%
Total Trade $614,419,067 100.00% $536,587,077 100.00% $401,925,459 100.00%

Collaboration between various Ministries are pushing for further diversification for the export market by enhancing development of industries such as: Honey, Cattle, Poultry, Tumeric, Cacao, Coconut, Furniture of exotic woods, Soybeans and various others. With the appropriate amount of arable land to supply the large markets in the neighbouring countries and the CARICOM marketplace, it’s only practical for Belize to expand its production lines of goods to accommodate while becoming less vulnerable on a handful on goods and few traditional markets in the process.

 As expected, Belize’s imports are mostly from the U.S., the most industrialized nation in the Northern hemisphere. Imports from the U.S. increases yearly and accounts for almost 39% of total import in 2015. Imports from other countries are increasing and slowly replacing the dominance of the U.S. Import trade from Mexico, Guatemala, other parts of Central America, and China are on a gradual rise and expected to remain. Belize does have a trade surplus with the EU, and a fairly balanced trade with CARICOM.