When the U.S. economy is mired in deep recession, an economic tsunami generally washes over Latin America and the Caribbean. But this time the worst recession in seven decades only caused a wave that rippled across the region in 2009, said economist Manuel Lasaga. And, in most cases, the wave wasn't strong enough to knock anyone down.
And good news has come out of the Statistical Institute of Belize. Latest GDP figures released last Thursday by the Institute, shows the country's sluggish economy rebounding slightly after the worldwide recession which has impacted greatly on a number of Belize's main foreign exchange earners.
The figures show that the Belizean economy grew by 2.4% in the first half of this year when compared to the same period last year. Producers of government services showed the greatest increase in economic activity with an impressive 16.1% increase, the highest in ten years, which was due mainly to the 2010 Population and Housing Census. The struggling tourism industry showed signs of recovery, as the number of cruise ship passengers increased by 8.8%. This coupled with a 5.7% hike in hotel room revenue led to an overall increase of 4.2% in the Hotels and Restaurant sector.
Another area of significant growth is in the wholesale and retail trade sector, bolstered by an increase in consumer spending.
The two significant downsides to the latest report card on the economy are the Construction sector and the Manufacturing sector. There has been a slowdown in the Construction sector from 2.2 % compared to 21.2% recorded in the same quarter of 2009.
And there have been considerable decreases in the production of citrus concentrates and an 11.6% drop in petroleum production. However, there has been an impressive turnaround in the sugar cane industry from last quarter as there was a 35.3% increase in sugar cane production. The figures released by the Institute are preliminary ones for the first half of 2010.
The Miami Herald states that the Caribbean region weathered the worldwide economic crisis largely without the inflationary spirals, debt defaults, bank collapses, capital flight and currency devaluations of the past.
“It's almost like the United States and Latin American switched places,'' said Lasaga, president of Miami consulting firm StratInfo. “This time Latin America is the region with the good economic indicators.''
What has happened since previous economic meltdowns in the United States is that countries across Latin America have undertaken sounder economic policies, cut deficits, cleaned up public accounts, reformed central banks, built up international reserves needed for purchases from abroad and managed to keep inflation relatively low. (News Source: Miami Herald/News7 Belize City)