Once called British Honduras, the independent Commonwealth country now named Belize shipped US$243.3 million worth of goods around the globe in 2018. That dollar amount reflects a -32.1% drop since 2014 and a -12.3% decline from 2017 to 2018.
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.
From a continental perspective, approaching half (43.3%) of Belizean exports by value were delivered to European countries including 30.3% sold to importers in the United Kingdom. Belize shipped another 32.4% worth of goods to North America while 22% were sold to customers in Latin America (excluding Mexico) plus the Caribbean. Smaller percentages went to Asia (2.1%) and Australia (0.1%) in the Oceania continent.
Given Belize’s population of 385,854 people, its total $243.3 million in 2018 exports translates to roughly $650 for every resident in the Central American nation.
In macroeconomic terms, Belize’s total exported goods represent 7.2% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2018 ($3.4 billion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 7.2% for exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2018 compares to 8.3% for 2014, seeming to indicate a relatively decreasing reliance on products sold on international markets for Belize’s total economic performance. And while this article focuses on exported goods, it is interesting to note that Belize also provided $615 million worth of exports-related services to global customers for an additional 18.3% of GDP in PPP.
Another key indicator of a country’s economic performance is its unemployment rate. Belize’s unemployment rate was forecast to be 6% as of February 2019 down from 7% one year earlier, per Trading Economics.
Belize’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Belizean global shipments during 2018. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Belize.
From the more granular four-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level, sugar (23.2%) is Belize’s most valuable exported product followed by bananas or plantains (16.2%), fruit and vegetable juices (13.3%), crustaceans including lobsters (6%), processed petroleum oils (5.5%), crude oil (5.1%) then dried shelled vegetables (2.8%).
- Sugar, sugar confectionery: US$60.6 million (24.9% of total exports)
- Fruits, nuts: $40.2 million (16.5%)
- Vegetable/fruit/nut preparations: $32.9 million (13.5%)
- Mineral fuels including oil: $25.7 million (10.6%)
- Fish: $21.5 million (8.9%)
- Perfumes, cosmetics: $8.6 million (3.5%)
- Vegetables: $7.2 million (3%)
- Tobacco, manufactured substitutes: $5.7 million (2.3%)
- Food industry waste, animal fodder: $5.1 million (2.1%)
- Wood: $4.7 million (1.9%)
Belize’s top 10 exports accounted for 87.2% of the overall value of its global shipments.
Articles of iron or steel was the fastest-growing among the top 10 export categories, up by 1,328% year over year since 2016.
In second place for improving export sales was the perfumes and cosmetics category which was up by 110.1% led by essential oils.
Belizean sugar shipments posted the third-fastest gain in value up by 43.5%.
The leading decliner among the top 10 Belizean export categories were vegetable, fruit or nut preparations which fell -23.7%.
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$58.8 million (Down by -23.3% since 2017)
- Fruits, nuts: $39.5 million (Down by -3.5%)
- Vegetable/fruit/nut preparations: $28 million (Down by -2.5%)
- Fish: $21.2 million (Up by 4.9%)
- Vegetables: $4.4 million (Down by -2.5%)
- Cotton: $63,000 (Down by -21.3%)
- Collector items, art, antiques: $22,000 (Reversing a -$61,000 deficit)
- Raw hides, skins not furskins, leather: $5,000 (Down by -44.4%)
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 -$714.4 million product trade deficit for 2018, down by -13% from the -$635.5 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$116.1 million (Up by 31.6% since 2017)
- Machinery including computers: -$84.9 million (Down by -1.3%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -$57.7 million (Up by 7.9%)
- Vehicles: -$51.7 million (Up by 7.5%)
- Tobacco, manufactured substitutes: -$42.4 million (Up by 22.1%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: -$31.2 million (Up by 1.9%)
- Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: -$27 million (Up by 12.5%)
- Clothing, accessories (not knit or crochet): -$24.4 million (Up by 3.2%)
- Articles of iron or steel: -$24.4 million (Down by -1%)
- Iron, steel: -$22.9 million (Up by 11%)
Belize has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits notably for refined petroleum oils and petroleum gas.
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)
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
FlagPictures, Flag of Belize. Accessed on February 7, 2019
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on February 7, 2019
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on July 4, 2019
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on July 4, 2019
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on February 7, 2019
The World Factbook, Central America and Caribbean: Belize. Accessed on February 7, 2019
Wikipedia, Belize. Accessed on February 7, 2019
Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on July 4, 2019
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Belize. Accessed on February 7, 2019
Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on July 4, 2019
World’s Top Countries, World’s Richest Countries By GDP PPP. Accessed on February 7, 2019