According to preliminary but official estimates from the now autonomous Statistical Institute of Belize (SIB), the economy of Belize grew by 4.4% between January and June this year when compared to the same period last year. As is normally the case, there were mixed sector performances. The freefalling of the farm shrimp industry continued unabated, resulting in significantly less foreign exchange receipts from an industry that was the largest export earner three years ago.
Production also declined in the agriculture (↓9.0%) and construction sectors (↓5.7%) while government services remained at a virtual standstill. It is clear, therefore, that the economic expansion was led by the services and the nascent petroleum sector, whose output rose by 58.2% during the six-month period.
Among services, the strongest growth occurred in wholesale and retail trade, which rebounded by 12.1% after its 2.8% decline in 2006. Hotel and restaurant activities also recorded an about-turn, rising by almost 3%, due mostly to international tourism. Growth in transportation and communication services slowed from 8.4% to 3.8%. Meanwhile, the finance and insurance services expanded by 6.1%, its fastest rate in the last three years.
Excluding garment production, which fell by 35.7%, there were increase outputs of all major manufacturing products. Sugar and beverages led the way, increasing by 26.4% and 10.8% respectively.
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