Belize’s economy has undergone a number of radical transformations during its long history. During the long reign of the Maya Empire, regional trade in metal, jade, cacao, and valuables formed the backbone of the pre-Columbian economy. With the arrival of English Baymen in the 16th century, logging of mahogany and logwood was the principal activity. As Britain cemented its control in the 19th century, Belize became a hub for growing sugar cane. Today, the local economy in Belize has several key sectors, including sugar cane, citrus, bananas, fishing and seafood, apparel manufacturing, and tourism.
A brief snapshot of the Belizean economy:
- GDP (purchasing power parity): $2.534 billion
- GDP: $1.407 billion
- GDP per capita (PPP):$8,200
- GDP by sector: agriculture: 29%, industry: 16.9%, services: 54.1%
- Labor force – by occupation: agriculture: 10.2%, industry: 18.1%, services: 71.7%
- Unemployment rate: 8.1%
- Budget:revenues: $376.5 million
- Budget expenditures: $412.5 million
- Inflation rate (consumer prices):0.3%
- Commercial bank prime lending rate: 14.14%
- Agriculture – products: bananas, cacao, citrus, sugar; fish, cultured shrimp; lumber; garments
- Industries: garment production, food processing, tourism, construction, oil
- Oil – production: 3,511 bbl/day
- Oil – exports: 2,260 bbl/day
- Oil – proven reserves: 6.7 million bbl
- Exports: $395 million
- Export commodities: sugar, bananas, citrus, clothing, fish products, molasses, wood, crude oil
- Export partners: US 35.6%, UK 21.5%, Ivory Coast 5.3%, Italy 4.5%, Nigeria 4%
Belize has made tremendous strides since gaining full independence in 1981. With a government strongly invested in tourism, infrastructure, and a business-friendly tax environment, the future looks brighter than ever for the local economy. The Belizean dollar is permanently pegged at 2:1 to the U.S. dollar, giving investors and expats long-term assurance on the stability of the economy.
In 1990, Belize passed the International Business Companies Act, fostering the creation of more than 15,000 companies that have proven useful for asset protection, brokerage accounts, ship registration, commission arrangements, and operating bank accounts. This was followed by the Trusts Act of 1992, giving expats the ability to operate both onshore and offshore trusts. Currently, more than 185 U.S. registered companies operate in Belize, particularly in the energy, telecommunications, agriculture, and tourism sectors.
The stability of the government, a peaceful parliamentary democracy, and a currency permanently pegged to the U.S. dollar all combine to make Belize a great place to live for expats and retirees. Favorable business laws encourage foreign investment, and the outlook for property prices in both the near and long-term future are positive.
One of the most popular locations for expats and retires is Cerros Sands. Located in Belize’s scenic northern Corozal District, Cerros Sands is a master-planned, gated community offering modern convenience in a beautiful natural setting conveniently located close to all of the top attractions in the country.