An upper middle income country with a GNI per capita of US$4,510 in 2013, Belize has integrated mostly with the Caribbean rather that other Central or South American countries, having a trade openness greater than its comparators’ average. The country's global comparative advantage is derived from its natural resource base, which supports the tourism and agriculture sectors, and its advantageous geographical proximity to major markets.
Belize's main development challenges are rooted in its high vulnerability to external shocks, including terms of trade, natural hazards and impacts of climate change, while the government's ability to address these challenges is constrained by high debt levels and limited fiscal space.
Although Belize's economy has traditionally been oriented toward agriculture, the services sector grew in importance during the 1990s and has been by far the largest contributor, accounting for 60% of GDP. The agricultural sector, which accounts for around 10% of GDP but over 50% of total exports, is dominated by the sugar and citrus industries.
Poverty in Belize has substantially increased in recent years due to a stagnant economy and the impact of natural disasters. The latest Country Poverty Assessment showed that during the 2002-2009 period, the overall poverty rate increased from 34% to 41%, while extreme poverty increased from 11% to 16%.The highest economic inequality is concentrated among indigenous Mayan communities.
After a moderate recovery from the global financial crisis, GDP growth decelerated in 2013. The economy recovered fairly quickly from the global financial crisis posting average annual growth rates of 3.1 percent between 2010 and 2012. This was driven by robust growth in agriculture and tourism.
In 2013, however, the growth momentum was lost and real output rose by only 0.7 percent. Growth has been adversely impacted by the poor performance of the agricultural sector associated with unfavorable weather conditions (drought followed by floods) and a disease which affected citrus crops. The country`s oil production also continued to decline.
The country’s high debt levels (75.5% in 2013) and increasing fiscal pressures remain a persistent challenge for policymakers
Last Updated: Apr 06, 2015