Understanding the Complexity of the Modern Belizean Economy [STUDY]

Belize Economy

GEOFFREY DE SIBERT, founder of Belize Research Log, writes about the complexity of a modern Belizean Economy.
Belize has a small, domestically focused economy that has experienced solid but unspectacular growth over the past twenty years thanks to strong population growth and the gradual development of its tourism sector, as well as a generally pro-business policy by both major political parties.

Belize benefits strongly from its historic links to the United Kingdom and the tradition of free market capitalism it inherited, as well as the corporate legal framework integral to the British Common Law system. Although once dominated by a small number of “colonial” corporate entities, Belize now has a remarkably open economy where major international investors have been able to acquire and control significant assets such as the major electricity and water utilities. Nonetheless it should be noted that shortly after gaining power in 2008, the Barrow administration re-nationalized Belize Telemedia Ltd. (the dominant telecom utility) in order to remove it from the control of British financier Michael Ashcroft, which the Barrow administration appeared to feel was playing too large a role in Belize’s economy as he also owned the country’s largest bank.

Belize’s 2010 GDP was estimated at USD 1.40 billion (official exchange rates) and USD 2.65 billion on a purchasing power parity basis. GDP grew at about a 4% compound rate from 1990-2008, although growth slowed considerably since then as a result of the global financial crisis. After remaining flat in 2009, it is estimated that Belize’s GDP grew by 2.0% in 2010, and is poised to return to trend-line growth of 3%-5% in 2011.

Belize’s 2010 GDP was categorized into three major sectors (CIA Fact Book):

· Agriculture: 22%
· Industry: 20%
· Services: 58%

Within the Services category, Tourism is estimated to represent less than 10% of GDP. 2010 Imports (All categories) totaled USD 647 million, with the main trading partners being the U.S. (34%) and Central America (21%). 2010 Exports (All categories) totaled USD 476 million, with the main trading partners being the U.S. (46%), the UK (26%), and the Central America/CARICOM region (17%)
Belize’s major crops in 2010, based on export values were:

· Orange Juice concentrate: USD 47.0 million

· Sugar & Molasses: USD 32.0 million

· Bananas: USD 36.0 million
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