After registering strong growth of 5.3% in 2012, Belize’s economy slowed to 1.4% on a decline in oil production and problems with citrus output and power production, partly owing to last year’s drought. Modest growth is expected to resume this year with forecasts of 2.4% per year to 2015.
Belize’s small economy (at $1.6 billion, it has the smallest GDP in all of Central and South America) is largely service-based (58%), and anchored in large part by a thriving tourism industry, the country’s top foreign exchange earner. This is followed by exports of marine products, citrus, cane sugar, bananas and garments. A recent and promising focus on niche industry, under the brand ‘Niche by Nature’ has aptly identified Belize’s natural assets as a prime investment attraction for those looking to differentiate their products and services based on quality.
The discovery of oil in 2006 at Spanish Lookout has bolstered growth in recent years. Prime Minister Dean Barrow’s center-right United Democratic Party, now serving a second term to 2017, have prioritized the attraction of new investment in tourism and oil discoveries to help counter the natural fluctuations of Belize’s agricultural output. Along these same lines, the Economist Intelligence Unit has said that the country’s growth in the medium term will continue to depend on tourism and investment in tourism-related infrastructure, the small energy sector and the agricultural sector, especially citrus, sugar, seafood and banana exports.