Once called British Honduras, the independent Commonwealth country now named Belize shipped US$244.9 million worth of goods around the globe in 2019. That dollar amount reflects a -22% drop since 2015 but a 0.7% rise from 2018 to 2019.
The only country in Central America having English as its official language, Belize is located along Central America’s eastern cost and shares its northern land border with Mexico. In the real world, however, English-based Kriol (also called Belizean Creole) is the language most native Belizeans speak from day to day.
The latest available country-specific data shows that 89.8% of products exported from Belize were bought by importers in: United Kingdom (33.5% of the global total), United States (25.4%), Ireland (6.4%), Jamaica (6.3%), Trinidad/Tobago (4%), Barbados (also 4%), Guatemala (3%), Honduras (2.1%), Netherlands (1.8%), Bahamas (1.2%), Spain (1.1%) and Mexico (1%).
From a continental perspective, 46.1% of Belize’s exports by value were delivered to European countries while 26.6% were sold to importers in North America. Belize shipped another 23.8% worth of goods to Latin America excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean. Smaller percentages went to Asia (3.2%), Australia (0.2%) then Africa (0.02%).
Given Belize’s population of 406,000 people, its total $244.9 million in 2019 exports translates to roughly $600 for every resident in the Central American nation.
Belize’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Belizean global shipments during 2019. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Belize.
- Sugar, sugar confectionery: US$73.5 million (30% of total exports)
- Fruits, nuts: $39.4 million (16.1%)
- Vegetable/fruit/nut preparations: $25.5 million (10.4%)
- Fish: $24.8 million (10.1%)
- Mineral fuels including oil: $21.8 million (8.9%)
- Vegetables: $9.4 million (3.8%)
- Perfumes, cosmetics: $5.8 million (2.4%)
- Tobacco, manufactured substitutes: $5.4 million (2.2%)
- Wood: $5.3 million (2.2%)
- Food industry waste, animal fodder: $4.9 million (2%)
Belize’s top 10 exports accounted for 88.1% of the overall value of its global shipments.
Vegetables represent the fastest grower among the top 10 export categories, up by 30.6% from 2018 to 2019. In second place for improving export sales was sugar including sugar confectionery via a 21.4% gain. Belize’s shipments of fish posted the third-fastest gain in value up by 15%.
The leading decliner among Belize’s top 10 export categories was perfumes and cosmetics thanks to a -32.3% drop year over year.
From the more granular four-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level, sugar (27.8%) is Belize’s most valuable exported product followed by bananas or plantains (15.8%), fruit and vegetable juices (10.2%), crustaceans including lobsters (6.8%), processed petroleum oils (4.7%), crude oil (4.1%) then dried shelled vegetables (3.8%) and moluscs (3.2%).
The following types of Belizean product shipments represent positive net exports or a trade balance surplus. Investopedia defines net exports as the value of a country’s total exports minus the value of its total imports.
In a nutshell, net exports represent the amount by which foreign spending on a home country’s goods or services exceeds or lags the home country’s spending on foreign goods or services.
- Sugar, sugar confectionery: US$72.4 million (Up by 23% since 2018)
- Fruits, nuts: $38.6 million (Down by -2.3%)
- Fish: $24.5 million (Up by 16%)
- Vegetable/fruit/nut preparations: $21.5 million (Down by -23.2%)
- Vegetables: $6.5 million (Up by 49.5%)
- Cotton: $55,000 (Down by -12.7%)
Belize has highly positive net exports in the international trade particularly for sugar and molasses. In turn, these cashflows indicate Belize’s strong competitive advantages under the sugar and sugar confectionery product category.
Overall Belize incurred a -$741 million product trade deficit for 2019, up by 3.7% from the -$714.4 million in red ink one year earlier.
Below are exports from Belize that result in negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on home country Belize’s goods trail Belizean importer spending on foreign products.
- Mineral fuels including oil: -US$126 million (Up by 8.5% since 2018)
- Machinery including computers: -$98.6 million (Up by 16.1%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -$50.5 million (Down by -12.4%)
- Vehicles: -$48.1 million (Down by -7%)
- Tobacco, manufactured substitutes: -$41.4 million (Down by -2.3%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: -$34 million (Up by 8.9%)
- Articles of iron or steel: -$31.7 million (Up by 29.6%)
- Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: -$30.1 million (Up by 11.4%)
- Iron, steel: -$21.7 million (Down by -5.6%)
- Clothing, accessories (not knit or crochet): -$21.5 million (Down by -11.9%)
Belize has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits notably for refined petroleum oils and petroleum gas under the mineral fuels including oil category.
Belizean Export Companies
Not one Belizean corporation ranks among Forbes Global 2000.
Wikipedia does list exports-related companies from Belize. Selected examples are shown below:
- Amandala (tabloid newspaper)
- Belize Bank (banking)
- Belize Telemedia Limited (mobile telecommunications)
- Great Belize Productions (broadcasting production)
- Love Belize Television (cable television)
- Maya Island Air (airliner)
- RSV Media Center (broadcaster including radio)
- Smartnet IBC Ltd (website communities for artists)
- Speednet Communications (telecommunications)
- Tropic Air (airliner)
In macroeconomic terms, Belize’s total exported goods represent 7% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2019 ($3.5 billion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 7% for exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2019 compares to 7.2% for 2018. This suggests a relatively decreasing reliance on products sold on international markets for Belize’s total economic performance albeit based on a short timeframe.
Another key indicator of a country’s economic performance is its unemployment rate. Belize’s average unemployment rate was 9.891% for 2019 up from 8.717% one year earlier, per the International Monetary Fund.
Belize’s capital city is Belmopan.
See also Costa Rica’s Top 10 Exports, Guatemala’s Top 10 Exports and Top Central American Export Countries
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook Central America: Belize. Accessed on March 27, 2020
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on March 27, 2020
International Monetary Fund, Exchange Rates selected indicators (National Currency per U.S. dollar, period average). Accessed on March 27, 2020
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on March 27, 2020
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on March 27, 2020
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on March 27, 2020
Wikipedia, Belize. Accessed on March 27, 2020
Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on March 27, 2020
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Belize. Accessed on March 27, 2020
Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on March 27, 2020
Wikipedia, Latvia. Accessed on March 27, 2020