flag Belize Belize: Economic Outline

Economic Indicators

For the latest updates on the key economic responses from governments to address the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, please consult the IMF's policy tracking platform Policy Responses to COVID-19.

In recent years, Belize had been showing encouraging signs of growth derived from strong tourism inflows and the external sector, particularly merchandise sales. However, as Belize is largely dependent on tourism, the country was hit hard during the 2020 recession. Nevertheless, the country managed to recover in 2021 and, according to the latest IMF forecasts, Belize registered an estimated growth in GDP of 8.5%, mainly driven by private consumption, a significant recovery in the tourism industry, and a rebound in exports. Belize's economy is expected to continue to recover in the coming years, albeit at a slower pace, with the IMF predicting a GDP growth of 5.4% for 2022 and 2.8% for 2023.

Despite boasting a revenue-to-GDP ratio that is higher than other countries in the region, Belize has a significant level of public debt, which reached an estimated 117.9% of GDP. According to the IMF, gross debt is projected to decrease to 113.9% in 2022 and 111.4% in 2023. The country's account deficit closed at an estimated 8.2% in 2021, and it is expected to remain stable in 2022 before slightly decreasing to 8.1% in 2023. Moreover, inflation stood at 3.1% in 2021, and should reach 2.5% in 2022 and 2% in 2023. In addition, foreign exchange reserves have fallen as a consequence of debt service and a decrease in foreign investment in the country. Policy, regulatory, and institutional weaknesses throughout Belize limits entrepreneurial activity and provides no cover for a weak banking sector. Tariff and non-tariff barriers, as well as corruption, also affect economic development. Hydrocarbon resources also represent half of the country’s tax revenues. In 2021, the government continued implementing measures in response to the economic crisis resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, which included increased health spending, financial support for workers and vulnerable groups in hard-hit sectors (especially tourism) - both of which have been financed with loans from bilateral and multilateral creditors - a reduction of statutory cash reserve requirements, a government stimulus that encourages domestic banks and credit unions to provide grace periods for servicing interest and/or principal of commercial and ancillary loans, and a reduction of risk-weights for banks on loans in the tourism sector from 100% to 50%. Overall, Belize's fiscal measures to mitigate the pandemic have been effective in boosting economic activity, which has been gradually recovering.

According to the latest IMF estimates, although the unemployment rate was heavily affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and spiked to 13.7% in 2020, unemployment declined to 10.6% in 2021 and it should further decrease to 9.7% in 2022. Belize has a high GDP per capita when compared to the rest of the region. However, there are still high levels of poverty and income disparity. Belize also has a problem with violent crime, largely drug-related, and the trafficking of narcotics to the United States. On the other hand, the country has the world's second largest barrier reef, and in order to protect it, the government declared 10% of its territorial waters as protected area.

 
Main Indicators 201920202021 (e)2022 (e)2023 (e)
GDP (billions USD) 1.981.71e1.912.062.16
GDP (Constant Prices, Annual % Change) 1.8-14.08.55.42.8
GDP per Capita (USD) 4,8534,0774,4584,7224,854
General Government Gross Debt (in % of GDP) 94.4123.3e117.9113.9111.4
Inflation Rate (%) 0.20.13.24.83.7
Current Account (billions USD) -0.19-0.13-0.16-0.17-0.17
Current Account (in % of GDP) -9.3-7.5e-8.2-8.2-8.1

Source: IMF – World Economic Outlook Database - October 2021.

Note: (e) Estimated Data


 
Monetary Indicators 20162017201820192020
Belize Dollar (BZD) - Average Annual Exchange Rate For 1 GBP 2.702.572.672.502.56

Source: World Bank - Latest available data.

 

Main Sectors of Industry

 
Breakdown of Economic Activity By Sector Agriculture Industry Services
Employment By Sector (in % of Total Employment) 16.8 15.6 67.6
Value Added (in % of GDP) 9.1 11.4 62.5
Value Added (Annual % Change) -2.6 -1.6 -14.0

Source: World Bank - Latest available data.

 
Socio-Demographic Indicators 20212022 (e)2023 (e)
Unemployment Rate (%) 10.69.89.0

Source: IMF – World Economic Outlook Database - Latest available data

 

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The Active Population in Figures

201820192020
Labour Force 173,734178,991172,711

Source: International Labour Organization, ILOSTAT database

 
201720182019
Total activity rate 67.19%67.46%67.71%
Men activity rate 83.39%83.52%83.76%
Women activity rate 51.42%51.87%52.15%

Source: International Labour Organization, ILOSTAT database

 

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Indicator of Economic Freedom

Definition:

The Economic freedom index measure ten components of economic freedom, grouped into four broad categories or pillars of economic freedom: Rule of Law (property rights, freedom from corruption); Limited Government (fiscal freedom, government spending); Regulatory Efficiency (business freedom, labour freedom, monetary freedom); and Open Markets (trade freedom, investment freedom, financial freedom). Each of the freedoms within these four broad categories is individually scored on a scale of 0 to 100. A country’s overall economic freedom score is a simple average of its scores on the 10 individual freedoms.

Score:
57,5/100
World Rank:
114
Regional Rank:
21

Economic freedom in the world (interactive map)
Source: Index of Economic Freedom, Heritage Foundation

 
 

Country Risk

See the country risk analysis provided by Coface.

 

Indicator of Political Freedom

Definition:

The Indicator of Political Freedom provides an annual evaluation of the state of freedom in a country as experienced by individuals. The survey measures freedom according to two broad categories: political rights and civil liberties. The ratings process is based on a checklist of 10 political rights questions (on Electoral Process, Political Pluralism and Participation, Functioning of Government) and 15 civil liberties questions (on Freedom of Expression, Belief, Associational and Organizational Rights, Rule of Law, Personal Autonomy and Individual Rights). Scores are awarded to each of these questions on a scale of 0 to 4, where a score of 0 represents the smallest degree and 4 the greatest degree of rights or liberties present. The total score awarded to the political rights and civil liberties checklist determines the political rights and civil liberties rating. Each rating of 1 through 7, with 1 representing the highest and 7 the lowest level of freedom, corresponds to a range of total scores.

Ranking:
Free
Political Freedom:
1/7

Political freedom in the world (interactive map)
Source: Freedom in the World Report, Freedom House

 

Indicator of Freedom of the Press

Definition:

The world rankings, published annually, measures violations of press freedom worldwide. It reflects the degree of freedom enjoyed by journalists, the media and digital citizens of each country and the means used by states to respect and uphold this freedom. Finally, a note and a position are assigned to each country. To compile this index, Reporters Without Borders (RWB) prepared a questionnaire incorporating the main criteria (44 in total) to assess the situation of press freedom in a given country. This questionnaire was sent to partner organisations,150 RWB correspondents, journalists, researchers, jurists and human rights activists. It includes every kind of direct attacks against journalists and digital citizens (murders, imprisonment, assault, threats, etc.) or against the media (censorship, confiscation, searches and harassment etc.).

World Rank:
53/180

Source: World Press Freedom Index, Reporters Without Borders

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Sources of General Economic Information

Main Online Newspapers and Portals
Belize News
Belize News Network
7news Belize
Breaking Belize News
Amandala News
The San Pedro Sun
Useful Resources
Ministry of Finance
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Immigration
Ministry of Economic Development
Directorate General for Foreign Trade
Beltraide - The Belize Trade & Investment ​Development Service
Central Bank of Belize
 
 

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Latest Update: May 2022

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