flag Belize Belize: Economic Outline

Economic Indicators

In recent years, Belize had been showing encouraging signs of growth derived from strong tourism inflows and the external sector, particularly merchandise sales. According to the IMF, following a robust growth of 17.9% in 2021 and 8.7% in 2022, the real GDP is estimated to have continued to grow strongly by 4.5% in 2023, led by the expansion of the tourism, construction, retail and wholesale trade, transport, and business process outsourcing sectors. As a result, real GDP was 16% above pre-pandemic levels in 2023. Growth is projected at 3.5% in 2024 and 2.5% from 2025 onwards as tourist arrivals return to pre-pandemic levels and the output gap closes.

Belize boasts a revenue-to-GDP ratio that is higher than other countries in the region, and, despite facing a significant level of public debt in recent years, that figure has been decreasing. Public debt declined from 103% of GDP in 2020 to 66% in 2023, propelled by robust nominal GDP growth, a significant enhancement in the primary fiscal balance, a debt-for-marine-protection swap with The Nature Conservancy, and a discount in Belize's Petrocaribe debt with Venezuela. As per the IMF, the primary balance is expected to decrease from 1.2% of GDP in FY2022 to 0.8% in FY2023 due to lower nontax revenues and grants, coupled with increased expenditure on goods and services. Looking ahead, the primary balance is forecasted to rebound to 1.0% of GDP from FY2024 onward as capital expenditure stabilizes. However, the overall fiscal deficit is anticipated to climb from 0.6% of GDP in FY2022 to 1.4% in FY2023-25 due to higher interest payments on external debt. Public debt is projected to decrease at a slower pace in the future, reflecting the anticipated moderation in growth and persistently high global interest rates, remaining above 50% of GDP over the next decade. Inflation, which dropped to 4.4% in 2023 due to reduced prices in transportation and utilities, partially balanced by increased food inflation, is expected to further decrease to 3.1% in 2024 and 1.3% over the medium term as commodity prices and global inflation ease (IMF). Between 2022 and 2023, domestic banks' regulatory capital increased from 15.1% of risk-weighted assets to 16.1%; nonperforming loans decreased from 6.9% of total loans to 5.2%; and returns on assets surged from 0.3% to 1.5%. Nevertheless, persistently high nonperforming loans, inadequate capital buffers, and restricted liquidity in certain banks compared to pre-pandemic levels are restraining private sector credit expansion. This constraint is likely to limit investment and real GDP growth in the future.

The unemployment rate decreased from 14% in 2020 to 3.4% in 2023 and is anticipated to remain at 3.4% over the medium term, reflecting the economy's sustained full employment status. 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. Increasing investment in infrastructure, implementing targeted social programs, and enhancing crime prevention measures could alleviate the negative impacts of fiscal consolidation on vulnerable households. Simultaneously, these measures would stimulate growth, foster inclusivity, and enhance resilience to climate-related shocks.

 
Main Indicators 20222023 (E)2024 (E)2025 (E)2026 (E)
GDP (billions USD) 2.833.093.303.463.59
GDP (Constant Prices, Annual % Change) 8.74.73.42.52.5
GDP per Capita (USD) 6,4086,8657,1707,3707,501
General Government Gross Debt (in % of GDP) 67.166.262.961.160.0
Inflation Rate (%) 6.34.43.12.31.3
Current Account (billions USD) -0.23-0.09-0.07-0.07-0.07
Current Account (in % of GDP) -8.3-2.9-2.1-2.1-2.1

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) 21.2 18.9 59.9
Value Added (in % of GDP) 7.6 15.9 59.2
Value Added (Annual % Change) -4.9 5.5 14.8

Source: World Bank - Latest available data.

 
Socio-Demographic Indicators 2024 (e)2025 (e)2026 (e)
Unemployment Rate (%) 3.43.43.4

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

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Sources of General Economic Information

Main Online Newspapers and Portals
Belize News
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 2024

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