Trade Profile

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Foreign Trade in Figures

International trade amounted to 96.6% of the country’s GDP in 2021. Whereas imports from CARICOM (Caribbean Community and Common Market) are exempt from import duties, other countries have to pay relatively high customs taxes (up to 45%). Moreover, import licenses are mandatory to protect certain national industries. Belize mainly exports cane or beet sugar (26.2%), bananas (17.4%), crustaceans (7.1%), beer made from malt (6.8%), and fruit juices (6.5%), while imports include petroleum oils (10.6%), cigars (4.8%), petroleum gas (1.8%), footwear (1.7%), and beer (1.6%). According to IMF Foreign Trade Forecasts, the volume of exports of goods and services increased by an estimated 18.1% in 2022 and is expected to increase by 4.1% in 2023, while the volume of imports of goods and services rose by an estimated 14.8% in 2022 and is expected to decrease by 0.6% in 2023.

The country's main trade partners are the United States, the United Kingdom, Mexico, China, Guatemala, Honduras, Spain, and Trinidad and Tobago. Despite the discovery of a large oilfield in the northern part of the country, Belize relies on other members of Petrocaribe (primarily Central American countries, Mexico and Venezuela) for its energy supply. Belize also relies heavily on the U.S., leading to commercial vulnerability due to lack of diversification. Belize's first National Trade Policy, which was launched in 2019, is aligned with the Government’s development strategies, such as the Horizon 2030 and the Growth and Sustainable Development Strategy, and seeks to reduce the cost of doing business, enhance competitiveness and develop efficient production systems and capacities, improve trade performance for goods and services, and diversify production, which should ѕіgnіfісаntlу соntrіbutе tо а соmреtіtіvе есоnоmу аnd ѕuѕtаіnаblе ѕосіо-есоnоmіс dеvеlорmеnt. Foreign trade is subject to fluctuations in global prices of raw materials and depends on the longevity of certain trade agreements, especially with the United States, the European Union (sugar cane) and the United Kingdom (bananas). The biggest challenge to Belize's trade and reputation involves being blacklisted by the EU as a fiscal paradise, presumably involved in money laundering.

According to the latest data, Belize imported nearly triple the value of its exports of goods in 2021 (USD 1,061 million in imports vs USD 424 million in exports). As a result, the country recorded a trade deficit for goods of USD 533 million in 2021. However, the country did export more than double the services it imported, with USD 618 million in services exported, and USD 297 million imported. Belize's trade balance is structurally in deficit, a trend which has been increasing in recent years due to a simultaneous rise in imports and a fall in exports. The country's trade deficit cannot be reduced unless the country becomes competitive in non-traditional products, such as industrial hemp and soybean oil, and further promotes its services sector.

 
Foreign Trade Indicators 20182019202020212022
Imports of Goods (million USD) 9589867871,0611,381
Exports of Goods (million USD) 451425289423494
Imports of Services (million USD) 238235170293350
Exports of Services (million USD) 620677426621850
Imports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 05-23325
Exports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 105-30354
Trade Balance (million USD) -466-543-443-534-729
Foreign Trade (in % of GDP) 1001018097102
Imports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 4950435053
Exports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 5151374650

Source: WTO – World Trade Organisation ; World Bank - Latest available data.

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Main Partner Countries

Main Customers
(% of Exports)
2022
United States 24.9%
United Kingdom 20.2%
Guatemala 11.0%
Honduras 6.9%
Spain 6.4%
See More Countries 30.6%
Main Suppliers
(% of Imports)
2022
United States 41.6%
China 17.6%
Mexico 10.2%
Guatemala 7.7%
Trinidad and Tobago 1.5%
See More Countries 21.4%

Source: Comtrade, Latest Available Data

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Main Products

0.3 bn USD of products exported in 2022
Cane or beet sugar and chemically pure sucrose, in...Cane or beet sugar and chemically pure sucrose, in solid form 26.9%
Bananas, incl. plantains, fresh or driedBananas, incl. plantains, fresh or dried 14.0%
Bran, sharps and other residues, whether or not in...Bran, sharps and other residues, whether or not in the form of pellets, derived from the sifting, milling or other working of cereals or of leguminous plants 8.6%
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous...Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals (excl. crude); preparations containing >= 70% by weight of petroleum oils or of oils obtained from bituminous minerals, these oils being the basic constituents of the preparations, n.e.s.; waste oils containing mainly petroleum or bituminous minerals 7.4%
Crustaceans, whether in shell or not, live, fresh,...Crustaceans, whether in shell or not, live, fresh, chilled, frozen, dried, salted or in brine, even smoked, incl. crustaceans in shell cooked by steaming or by boiling in water; flours, meals and pellets of crustaceans, fit for human consumption 6.3%
See More Products 36.8%
1.4 bn USD of products imported in 2022
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous...Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals (excl. crude); preparations containing >= 70% by weight of petroleum oils or of oils obtained from bituminous minerals, these oils being the basic constituents of the preparations, n.e.s.; waste oils containing mainly petroleum or bituminous minerals 13.4%
Cigars, cheroots, cigarillos and cigarettes of...Cigars, cheroots, cigarillos and cigarettes of tobacco or of tobacco substitutes 4.8%
Footwear with outer soles of rubber, plastics,...Footwear with outer soles of rubber, plastics, leather or composition leather and uppers of textile materials (excl. toy footwear) 2.1%
Mineral or chemical fertilisers containing two or...Mineral or chemical fertilisers containing two or three of the fertilising elements nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium; other fertilisers (excl. pure animal or vegetable fertilisers or mineral or chemical nitrogenous, phosphatic or potassic fertilisers); animal, vegetable, mineral or chemical fertilisers in tablets or similar forms or in packages of a gross weight of <= 10 kg 1.7%
Trunks, suitcases, vanity cases, executive-cases,...Trunks, suitcases, vanity cases, executive-cases, briefcases, school satchels, spectacle cases, binocular cases, camera cases, musical instrument cases, gun cases, holsters and similar containers; travelling-bags, insulated food or beverage bags, toilet bags, rucksacks, handbags, shopping-bags, wallets, purses, map-cases, cigarette-cases, tobacco-pouches, tool bags, sports bags, bottle-cases, jewellery boxes, powder-boxes, cutlery cases and similar containers, of leather or of composition leather, of sheeting of plastics, of textile materials, of vulcanised fibre or of paperboard, or wholly or mainly covered with such materials or with paper 1.6%
See More Products 76.5%

Source: Comtrade, Latest Available Data

 

To go further, check out our service Import Export Flows

 
 

Main Services

0.6 bn USD of services exported in 2021
60.28%
13.54%
11.77%
7.59%
4.88%
0.73%
0.58%
0.54%
0.09%
0.3 bn USD of services imported in 2021
42.37%
15.83%
13.03%
8.06%
7.10%
6.41%
3.87%
3.16%
0.14%
0.03%

Source: United Nations Statistics Division, Latest Available Data

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Commercial Policy

International Economic Cooperation
Member of the World Trade Organization (WTO)
Member of Caribbean Common Market (CARICOM)

Member of Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA)

Assessment of Commercial Policy
The assessment of Belize’s commercial policy
Average Customs Duty (Excluding Agricultural Products)
20%
 
 

Trade Compliance

International Conventions
Member of the World Trade Organization (WTO)
International Economic Cooperation
Member of Caribbean Common Market (CARICOM)

Member of Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA)

Useful Resources
Belize Customs and Excise Department
 
 
 

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Latest Update: November 2023