Belize - Country Commercial Guide
Market Overview
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Belize’s open, private sector-led economy is based primarily on tourism, agriculture, and services. In 2022, gross domestic product (GDP) grew to US $2.95 billion, a 12.1 percent rise following a 15.2 percent increase in 2021. Belize covers 8,867 square miles and has an estimated population of 441,471 according to a July 2022 estimate.

International tourism, which accounts for approximately 40 percent of country’s economy, has surged back after a steep COVID-related decline, with 2022 revenues surpassing 2019 levels, and annual cruise and overnight arrivals nearing 1 million visitors. U.S. tourists in 2022 accounted for a significant majority of travelers, at more than three-quarters of all international visitors. Other service industries, including wholesale and retail trade, have also strongly rebounded to pre-pandemic levels, and benefited from increased domestic spending.

Agriculture and seafood exports increased by 10.7 percent in 2022. Removal of trade barriers and regional partnerships, most notably with Mexico, have driven agricultural growth in the past year.  Domestic export receipts increased to US $242 million as revenues rose or remained steady for all major commodities except minerals and fuel which have continued a downward trend that started over a decade ago.

The manufacturing industry continued to decline in 2022 as utility costs weighed down value-added gains from the limited food manufacturing and construction activities.  Exports of manufactured products as a share of total exports fell to just seven percent, a drop from 25 percent just five years earlier. 

Belize has been severely affected by global inflationary trends after two decades of relative consumer price stability. Inflation swelled from 0.1 percent in 2020 to 6.3 percent in 2022.  Higher prices on imported goods such as fertilizer, as well as supply chain costs, were exacerbated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and widening the current account deficit. In 2022, the national debt-to-GDP ratio fell 10 percent due to international debt-relief programs and significant tightening of public funds. Debt to GDP fell further from 80.1 percent in 2021 to 68.5 percent in 2022. 

The United States remained Belize’s lead trading partner for 2022 and was the largest exporter to Belize, accounting for $575 million or 42 percent of overall imports for the year, an increase from 35 percent. The United States is Belize’s second largest export destination after the United Kingdom, with $48 million or 20 percent of exports in 2022 as measured in terms of value. Other major trading partners for imports included the People’s Republic of China (PRC), Mexico, the European Union, and other Central American countries. All other major export partners were members of the European Union or the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).

Belize is an attractive market for U.S. exports. Its proximity to the United States makes it easily accessible via air, land, and sea routes for both passengers and cargo. Belize is the only predominantly English-speaking country in Central America. Compared to its Central American neighbors, Belize’s labor force is relatively highly skilled and higher wages drive demand for American consumer products. 

Belize has a history of stable democratic government, characterized by peaceful, free, and fair elections and smooth transitions of power between administrations. Belize has maintained a strong tradition of civilian control of its relatively small military force since gaining independence on September 21, 1981. The political parties are center-left and center-right, but often hold similar views regarding trade, economics, and development. The People’s United Party (PUP) gained an overwhelming majority in the November 2020 general elections.

Political Environment

For background information on the political and economic environment of the country, please click on the link to the  U.S. Department of State Countries & Areas.