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 90.2% of products exported from Belize were bought by importers in: United Kingdom (29.6% of the global total), United States (23.4%), Ireland (8.3%), Mexico (5.8%), Jamaica (5.4%), Trinidad and Tobago (4.8%), Guatemala (4%), Honduras (2.7%), Barbados (2.1%), Spain (1.6%), Netherlands (1.5%) and United Arab Emirates (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 417,000 people, its total $211.9 million in 2020 exports translates to roughly $500 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 2020. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Belize.
- Sugar, sugar confectionery: US$60 million (28.3% of total exports)
- Fruits, nuts: $44.4 million (21%)
- Vegetable/fruit/nut preparations: $23.2 million (11%)
- Fish: $19.8 million (9.3%)
- Beverages, spirits, vinegar: $12.8 million (6.1%)
- Vegetables: $8.5 million (4%)
- Food industry waste, animal fodder: $7 million (3.3%)
- Mineral fuels including oil: $6.2 million (2.9%)
- Tobacco, manufactured substitutes: $6.2 million (2.9%)
- Perfumes, cosmetics: $4 million (1.9%)
Belize’s top 10 exports accounted for 90.6% of the overall value of its global shipments.
Beverages, spirits and vinegar was the fastest grower among the top 10 export categories, up by 203.4% from 2019 to 2020. In second place for improving export sales was food industry waste and animal fodder via a 42.4% gain. Belize’s shipments of tobacco, manufactured substitutes posted the third-fastest gain in value up by 13.8%.
The leading decliner among Belize’s top 10 export categories was mineral fuels including oil thanks to a -71.5% drop year over year.
From the more granular four-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level, sugar (25.8%) is Belize’s most valuable exported product followed by bananas or plantains (20.7%), fruit and vegetable juices (10.7%), crustaceans including lobsters (7%), malt beer (5.1%), dried shelled vegetables (4%), cigarettes, cigars and cigarellos (2.9%), molasses (2.5%), bran (also 2.5%) and moluscs (2.3%).
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$59.3 million (Down by -18.1% since 2019)
- Fruits, nuts: $43.8 million (Up by 13.4%)
- Fish: $19.7 million (Down by -19.7%)
- Vegetable/fruit/nut preparations: $19.6 million (Down by -8.8%)
- Vegetables: $5 million (Down by -23.1%)
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 -$575.2 million product trade deficit for 2020, down -22.4% from the -$741 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.
- Machinery including computers: -US$89.2 million (Down by -9.6% since 2018)
- Mineral fuels including oil: -$74.3 million (Down by -41%)
- Tobacco, manufactured substitutes: -$43.4 million (Up by 5%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -$36.1 million (Down by -28.6%)
- Vehicles: -$34.3 million (Down by -28.8%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: -$26.6 million (Down by -21.8%)
- Other chemical goods: -$26.2 million (Up by 38.3%)
- Articles of iron or steel: -$24.6 million (Down by -22.4%)
- Animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes: -$23.8 million (Up by 12.6%)
- Dairy, eggs, honey: -$21.2 million (Up by 5.5%)
Belize has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits notably for computers, refrigerators and freezers under the machinery including computers 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 13% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2020 ($1.6 billion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 13% for exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2020 compares to 7% for 2019. This suggests a relatively increasing 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 unemployment rate was 12.5% at the end of 2020, up from an average 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 6, 2021
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on March 6, 2021
International Monetary Fund, Exchange Rates selected indicators (National Currency per U.S. dollar, period average). Accessed on March 6, 2021
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on March 6, 2021
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on March 6, 2021
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on March 6, 2021
Wikipedia, Belize. Accessed on March 6, 2021
Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on March 6, 2021
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Belize. Accessed on March 6, 2021
Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on March 6, 2021
Wikipedia, Latvia. Accessed on March 6, 2021