Belize : Economy

Economy

GNI: 
US$1.6bn
GNI PC: 
US$4,660
GDP Growth: 
2.3% p.a. 2009–13
Inflation: 
0.5% p.a. 2009–13

Belize’s economy is predominantly agricultural, and it is vulnerable to volatility in world commodity markets. Efforts have been made to diversify from traditional export products such as sugar and timber into bananas, citrus concentrates, seafood and fish products. Forestry has been revitalised and tourism expanded to become a significant foreign currency earner. Since 1990, an export-processing zone has been developed near Belize City International Airport, mainly for clothing production. And, mainly for domestic consumption, a free zone has been established at Corozal on the coast near the Mexican border.

Though Belize had not had a formal relationship with the IMF, it implemented its own structural adjustment programme, with expenditure controls, a public-sector wage freeze and job cuts, and some privatisation, aimed at restoring a fiscal surplus.

There was a short pause in the vigorous economic growth of the early 2000s when, in 2001, the fourth hurricane to strike Belize in three years caused heavy damage to tourist facilities and rice production in the southern part of the country. Another short pause ensued in 2007, when the economy felt the impact of Hurricane Dean on agricultural output and tourism. The recovery of 2008 was then summarily reversed by the world economic downturn and consequent fall in tourism, and the economy stalled in 2009, picking up briskly in 2010–12, with steady growth in 2013–15.