Once called British Honduras, the independent Commonwealth country now named Belize shipped US$257.5 million worth of goods around the globe in 2021.
That dollar amount reflects a -12.2% drop since 2017 but a 21.5% increase from 2020 to 2021.
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.
Belize’s 10 most valuable exported products are sugar, bananas and plantains, crustaceans including lobsters, fruit or vegetable juices, malt beer, bran, cigars and cigarettes, dried shelled vegetables, moluscs and molasses. Combined, those products account for over four-fifths (82.5%) of overall exports from Belize in 2021.
Given Belize’s population of 428,000 people, its total $257.5 million in 2021 exports translates to roughly $600 for every resident in the Central American nation. That per-capita amount exceeds the average $500 for 2020.
The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Belizean global shipments during 2021. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Belize.
- Sugar, sugar confectionery: US$77 million (29.9% of total exports)
- Fruits, nuts: $46.4 million (18%)
- Fish: $26.9 million (10.4%)
- Vegetable/fruit/nut preparations: $17.9 million (6.9%)
- Beverages, spirits, vinegar: $15.8 million (6.1%)
- Food industry waste, animal fodder: $14.2 million (5.5%)
- Mineral fuels including oil: $10.9 million (4.2%)
- Tobacco, manufactured substitutes: $9.9 million (3.8%)
- Vegetables: $8.6 million (3.3%)
- Wood: $5.8 million (2.2%)
Belize’s top 10 exports accounted for 90.6% of the overall value of its global shipments.
Food industry waste and animal fodder was the fastest grower among the top 10 export categories, up by 102.6% from 2020 to 2021.
In second place for improving export sales was wood via its 75.3% gain.
Belize’s shipments of mineral fuels including oil posted the third-fastest gain in value up by 75.1%, propelled by greater international sales for both refined and crude petroleum oils.
The leading decliner among Belize’s top 10 export categories was the vegetable, fruit or nut preparations category thanks to a -22.9% drop year over year.
From the more granular four-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level, sugar (26.8% of the global total) is Belize’s most valuable exported product. In second place was bananas and plantains (17.9%) trailed by crustaceans including lobsters (7.2%), fruit or vegetable juices (6.7%), malt beer (5.4%), bran (5.1%), cigarettes, cigars and cigarellos (3.8%), dried shelled vegetables (3.3%), moluscs (3.1%) and molasses (also 3.1%).
Products Generating Greatest Trade Surpluses for Belize
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$75.9 million (Up by 28% since 2020)
- Fruits, nuts: $45.6 million (Up by 4.2%)
- Fish: $26.6 million (Up by 35%)
- Vegetable/fruit/nut preparations: $13.9 million (Down by -29.3%)
- Vegetables: $5.8 million (Up by 16.2%)
- Food industry waste, animal fodder: $409,000 (Reversing a -$2.9 million deficit)
- Live animals: $139,000 (Reversing a -$440,000 deficit)
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.
Products Causing Biggest Trade Deficits for Belize
Belize incurred an overall -$800 million product trade deficit for 2021, up 39.1% from the -$575.2 million in red ink one year earlier in 2020.
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$123.3 million (Up by 65.9% since 2020)
- Machinery including computers: -$111.8 million (Up by 25.3%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -$52.9 million (Up by 46.6%)
- Vehicles: -$42.8 million (Up by 24.8%)
- Tobacco, manufactured substitutes: -$41 million (Down by -5.6%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: -$39.1 million (Up by 47.1%)
- Articles of iron or steel: -$37.9 million (Up by 54.1%)
- Iron, steel: -$36 million (Up by 123.3%)
- Other chemical goods: -$31.9 million (Up by 21.8%)
- Footwear: -$31.4 million (Up by 75.7%)
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.
Belize’s 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)
Where Belize’s Top Trading Partners Are Located
The latest available country-specific data shows that 89.2% of products exported from Belize were bought by importers in: United Kingdom (23.5% of the global total), United States of America (22.4%), Guatemala (7.2%), Mexico (7%), Ireland (5.5%), Jamaica (4.8%), Trinidad and Tobago (also 4.8%), Spain (4.2%), Honduras (3.7%), Italy (2.9%), Romania (2.3%) and Netherlands (0.8%).
From a continental perspective, 42.6% of Belize’s exports by value were delivered to fellow European countries while 29.5% were sold to importers in North America. Belize shipped another 25.5% worth of goods to Latin America excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean.
Smaller percentages went to Asia (1.6%), Australia in Oceania (0.6%), then Africa (0.24%) specifically Egypt, South Africa and Gabon.
In macroeconomic terms, Belize’s total exported goods represent 8.9% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2021 ($2.9 billion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 8.9% for exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2021 compares to 13% for 2020. Those percentages suggest 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 unemployment rate was 10.623% in 2021, down from an average 13.743% one year earlier in 2020 per the International Monetary Fund.
Belize’s capital city is Belmopan.
See also Costa Rica’s Top 10 Exports, Guatemala’s Top 10 Exports, United States Top 10 Exports and Top Central American Export Countries
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook Central America: Belize. Accessed on April 6, 2022
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on April 6, 2022
International Monetary Fund, Exchange Rates selected indicators (Domestic Currency per U.S. dollar, period average)
. Accessed on April 6, 2022
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on April 6, 2022
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on April 6, 2022
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on April 6, 2022
Wikipedia, Belize. Accessed on April 6, 2022
Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on April 6, 2022
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Belize. Accessed on April 6, 2022
Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on April 6, 2022
Wikipedia, Latvia. Accessed on April 6, 2022
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