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Belize Economy 1999

    Economy—overview: The small, essentially private enterprise economy is based primarily on agriculture, agro-based industry, and merchandising, with tourism and construction assuming greater importance. Sugar, the chief crop, accounts for nearly half of exports, while the banana industry is the country's largest employer. The government's tough austerity program in 1997 resulted in an economic slowdown that continued in 1998. The trade deficit has been growing, mostly as a result of low export prices for sugar and bananas. The new government faces important challenges to economic stability. Rapid action to improve tax collection has been promised, but a lack of progress in reigning in spending could bring the exchange rate under pressure.

    GDP: purchasing power parity—$700 million (1998 est.)

    GDP—real growth rate: 0.5% (1998 est.)

    GDP—per capita: purchasing power parity—$3,000 (1998 est.)

    GDP—composition by sector:
    agriculture: 22%
    industry: 22%
    services: 56% (1997 est.)

    Population below poverty line: NA%

    Household income or consumption by percentage share:
    lowest 10%: NA%
    highest 10%: NA%

    Inflation rate (consumer prices): -0.5% (1998 est.)

    Labor force: 71,000
    note: shortage of skilled labor and all types of technical personnel (1997 est.)

    Labor force—by occupation: agriculture 30%, services 16%, government 15.4%, commerce 11.2%, manufacturing 10.3%

    Unemployment rate: 13% (1997 est.)

    revenues: $140 million
    expenditures: $142 million, including capital expenditures of $NA (FY97/98 est.)

    Industries: garment production, food processing, tourism, construction

    Industrial production growth rate: 0.2% (1996 est.)

    Electricity—production: 145 million kWh (1996)

    Electricity—production by source:
    fossil fuel: 100%
    hydro: 0%
    nuclear: 0%
    other: 0% (1996)

    Electricity—consumption: 145 million kWh (1996)

    Electricity—exports: 0 kWh (1996)

    Electricity—imports: 0 kWh (1996)

    Agriculture—products: bananas, coca, citrus, sugarcane; lumber; fish, cultured shrimp

    Exports: $95.3 million (f.o.b., 1998)

    Exports—commodities: sugar 46%, bananas 26%, citrus fruits, clothing, fish products, molasses, wood

    Exports—partners: US 45%, UK 30%, Mexico 3%, Canada 3% (1997)

    Imports: $149.7 million (c.i.f., 1998)

    Imports—commodities: machinery and transportation equipment, manufactured goods, food, fuels, chemicals, pharmaceuticals

    Imports—partners: US 52%, Mexico 13%, UK 5% (1997)

    Debt—external: $288 million (1996)

    Economic aid—recipient: $23.4 million (1995)

    Currency: 1 Belizean dollar (Bz$) = 100 cents

    Exchange rates: Belizean dollars (Bz$) per US$1—2.0000 (fixed rate)

    Fiscal year: 1 April—31 March

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Revised 1-Mar-99
Copyright © 1999 Photius Coutsoukis (all rights reserved)