An upper middle income country with a GDP per capita (PPP) of US$8486 in 2014, Belize has undergone a significant transformation over the last decade resulting from the first commercial oil discovery in 2005 and emergence of the tourism industry. Its global comparative advantage is derived from its natural resource base, which supports the tourism and agriculture sectors, and its advantageous proximity to major markets.
While Belize's economy has traditionally been oriented towards agriculture (sugar and citrus industries), the services sector grew during the 1990s and has been the largest contributor, accounting for 54% of GDP.
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 42%, while extreme poverty increased from 11% to 16%.The highest economic inequality is concentrated among indigenous Mayan communities.
The economy expanded by 3.6 percent in 2014, more than double the rate in 2013. Increased activities in the agricultural and tourism sectors helped to solidify the growth outturn. Oil production however, continued to decline in the context of the gradual depletion of the exploited oil fields. .
Over the medium-term, real GDP growth is expected to hover around 2.5% a year as declining oil production would be offset by higher output of other commodity exports, tourism and construction.
The country’s high debt levels (76% in 2014) and increasing fiscal pressures remain a persistent challenge for policymakers.
Last Updated: Sep 08, 2015