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International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.

1. Economic activity recovered strongly from the pandemic. After declining by 13.7 percent in 2020, real GDP grew by 17.9 percent in 2021 and 8.7 percent in 2022 led by tourism, construction, retail and wholesale trade, transport, and business process outsourcing. The unemployment rate fell from 13.7 percent in the second half of 2020 to 5 percent in the second half of 2022, while inflation rose from near zero in 2020 to 6.3 percent in 2022 led by higher food and fuel prices. The primary fiscal balance improved markedly from -8.3 percent of GDP in FY2020 to 1.6 percent in FY2022, in line with the strong economic recovery and a large fiscal consolidation.1 As a result of this and two debt operations, a debt for marine protection swap with The Nature Conservancy in 2021 and a discount in Belize's Petrocaribe debt with Venezuela in 2022, Belize's public debt declined sharply from 103 percent of GDP in 2020 to 67 percent in 2022.

International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.

Several shocks have increased global food prices in recent years, including dislocations caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The poor have been hurt disproportionately, prompting policymakers to implement measures to protect them. This chapter documents the recent episode of food inflation and food insecurity in Belize; overviews what policies were announced in Belize and the Caribbean during the recent cost-of-living crisis; and discusses the policies Belize could implement to protect its most vulnerable households from the threat of food insecurity going forward.