Statistical Institute of Belize reported slight economic decline

June 14th, 2014

In the end of May, the Statistical Institute of Belize informed about the slight contraction of country’s economy in the first quarter of this year, as compared to the economic performance in the first quarter of 2013. According to SIB, jurisdiction’s gross domestic product dipped by zero point four percent, primarily due to decreased production in three specific industries – agriculture, manufacturing and mining, and despite positive changes in some other sectors of economy – electricity, shrimp, beer, tourism and construction industries.

The greatest decline was in sugar, citrus, banana and oil production. While Belize Natural Energy Ltd., which is the country’s sole producer of crude petroleum, anticipated a gradual decrease in production, the rate at which oil is exported is falling dramatically.

The statistics for external trade in the first quarter of the year, including import and export, shows much higher results. At the end of this period, total exports of crude, citrus concentrate and bananas amounted to two hundred and five million dollars, while imported goods totalled six hundred million dollars, being brought mainly from the United States, Mexico and Curacao.

Belize Government receives US$5 million under Bilateral Cooperation Program

June 4th, 2014

On May 19, Taiwan’s Ambassador to Belize, His Excellency David C. K. Wu, on behalf of the Government of the Republic of China-Taiwan, handed over a cheque US$5 million worth to the Prime Minister and Minister of Finance and Economic Development of Belize Hon. Dean Barrow, to support the government of the jurisdiction in key infrastructural projects.

This money is a grant to the Government of Belize under the Bilateral Cooperation Program between the Government of Belize and the Government of Republic of China-Taiwan. Ambassador Wu said in his comments: “We have seen the apparent progress for your beautiful country in terms of the infrastructure development… We hope that we can continue to enjoy the very close partnership with Belize in the future.”

Caribbean Export Development Agency launched project on IP awareness

May 29th, 2014

The Caribbean Export Development Agency has launched a series of private sector IP clinics across the region. The first session of this initiative in the sphere of intellectual property took place in Belize from April 29-30, three more are to follow in the next months. The events of these days include case studies from local markets as well as presentations from local experts from tertiary institutions, law firms and IP offices.

The IP clinics are part of the project initiated through a workshop hosted by the Agency in collaboration with the World Intellectual Property Organisation in 2013, and named entitled “The Use of Intellectual Property as a Tool for Business/Export Enhancement.” At the national level, this
Project faces the issues of protecting the intellectual property assets, including trademarks, brands, etc.

It was stated by the representative from BELTRAIDE that “the initiative provided the capacity developments necessary for the business support organizations in Belize such as BELIPO, BELTRAIDE, and the Directorate of Foreign Trade to continue to provide support and technical services to enterprises in Belize through the new IP Task Force.”

The Intellectual Property clinics have the purpose to illustrate how IP can be used to enhance the businesses, and inform about the ways of IP protection. Special attention is paid at trademarks and branding, protection and licensing of trade secrets, franchising and IP mechanisms useful for the optimization of business operations and enhancement of export opportunities. Also, they aim to provide Caribbean Export Agency with information on the issues faced by businesses in the region to protect their IP rights.

Consultation of Belize jurisdiction concluded by IMF team leader

May 12th, 2014

On April 28 – May 9 the team of International Monetary Fund (IMF) visited Belize jurisdiction, with the purpose to hold discussions in the context of Belize’s 2014 Article IV Consultation mission. The IMF team, led by Jacques Bouhga-Hagbe, met with Belizean Prime Minister Dean Barrow, Financial Secretary Joseph Waight, Central Bank Governor Glenford Ysaguirre, and other government and central bank officials, representatives of the private sector, opposition members and labour unions.

The leader of the IMF mission concluded the visit with the statement, including information on the growth of the Belizean economy by only 0.7% in 2013, because of continued decline in oil production and weak agricultural output. Also, according to his statement, inflation in the country decreased to 0.5%, from 1.3% in 2013. While declining, Non-Performing Loans (NPLs) remained high at 17.6 percent of total loans at end 2013. The banking system’s capital buffers improved and weaknesses in the system were addressed. International reserves improved to 4.3 months of imports (up from 3.3 months at end-2012), mainly due to PetroCaribe financing and private capital inflows. The primary fiscal surplus for FY2013/14 is estimated to have fallen to 1 percent of GDP, from 1.4 percent of GDP in FY2012/13.

Mr. Bouhga-Hagbe stated: “Risks continue to be tilted to the downside as additional external vulnerabilities could arise from a protracted period of weak growth in advanced economies or complications with PetroCaribe financing. New oil discoveries and growth-enhancing projects that are currently being implemented or envisaged could mitigate these risks… In this context, the mission pointed to the benefits of a more ambitious fiscal stance to create credible policy buffers that would help address downside risks. This could be achieved by a combination of revenue, expenditure, public financial management, and debt management measures. The mission also expressed the view that current efforts to further strengthen the banking system should continue.”