Economy of Belize
Belize has a small, essentially private enterprise economy that is based primarily on agriculture, tourism, and services. The cultivation of newly discovered crude oil in the town of Spanish Lookout has presented new prospects and problems for this developing nation. Besides petroleum, Belize's other primary exports are citrus, sugar, and bananas. Belize's trade deficit has been growing, mostly as a result of low export prices for sugar and bananas.
The new government faces important challenges to economic stability. Rapid action to improve tax collection has been promised, but a lack of progress in reining in spending could bring the exchange rate under pressure. The Belize Dollar is fixed to the U.S. dollar at a rate of 2:1.
Domestic industry is limited, constrained by relatively high-cost labour and energy and a small domestic market. Tourism attracts the most foreign direct investment although significant foreign investment is also found in the energy, telecommunications, and agricultural sectors. SectorsAgriculture
Banana production accounted for 16 percent of total Belizean exports in 1999.
Citrus fruits are Belize's second most important agricultural crop. Energy
A major constraint on a functioning market economy in Belize continues to be the scarcity of infrastructure investments. Although electricity, telephone, and water utilities are all relatively good, Belize has the most expensive electricity in the region. Several capital projects are currently underway. The largest of these is a $15 million rural electrification program to be jointly implemented by the government and Belize Electricity Limited (BEL). Transport
Ports in Belize City, Dangriga, and Big Creek handle regularly scheduled shipping from the U.S. and the United Kingdom although draft is limited to a maximum of 10 feet in Belize City and 15 feet in southern ports. International air service is provided by American Airlines, Delta Airlines, Continental Airlines, Southwest Airlines, U.S. Airways, and TACA to gateways in Dallas, Texas, Houston, Texas, Charlotte, North Carolina, Miami, Florida, and San Salvador. Tourism
A combination of factorsóclimate, the Belize Barrier Reef (longest in the Western Hemisphere), 127 offshore Cayes (islands), excellent fishing, safe waters for boating, scuba diving, and snorkeling, abundant jungle flora and fauna, and numerous Mayan ruinsósupport the thriving tourism and ecotourism industry. Development costs are high, but the Government of Belize has designated tourism as its second development priority after agriculture.
In 2011, tourist arrivals totaled 888,191 (mostly from the U.S.) and tourist receipts amounted to $260 million. The travel and tourism industry in 2011 directly contributed 350.6 million BZD (176 million USD) to Belize's GDP (12.0% of GDP).
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