March exports up 16.5% in 5th straight month of growth

March exports up 16.5% in 5th straight month of growth

Shipments to all of Singapore's top 10 markets rose last month, trade agency IE Singapore says.

SINGAPORE: Non-oil domestic exports (NODX) in Singapore beat expectations to surge 16.5 per cent year-on-year in March, extending a rebound that started in November last year, according to statistics released on Monday (Apr 17) by trade agency International Enterprise (IE) Singapore.

Exports in March also fell a seasonally adjusted 1.1 per cent from the previous month, a smaller-than-expected decline.

A Reuters poll had forecast March exports would expand 10.4 per cent from a year earlier and shrink 6.4 per cent from February, according to a separate report on Monday.

"We are still comfortable with the current positive trajectory in terms of exports but a lot is price-based effects so we will have a better sense in the second half of the year," said Standard Chartered economist Edward Lee in the report.

Electronic exports rose 5.2 per cent, following a 17.2 per cent increase in the previous month. The increase was largely due to ICs (7.8 per cent), parts of PCs (33.9 per cent) and consumer electronics (29.9 per cent), IE Singapore said.

Non-electronic exports also expanded 20.8 per cent, following a 22.7 per cent rise in the previous month. The increase was led by petrochemicals (42.8 per cent), specialised machinery (70.1 per cent) and structural parts made of iron, steel and aluminium (4,697.5 per cent).

Shipments to all of Singapore's top 10 markets rose last month. Exports to China, its biggest export destination, surged 45.5 per cent from a year earlier, while shipments to Taiwan rose 32.5 per cent and shipments to Hong Kong grew 17.4 per cent, IE Singapore said.

Non-oil re-exports rose 9.4 per cent, after a similar increase in the previous month.

Electronic re-exports rose 10.2 per cent, following a 1.3 per cent growth in February, IE Singapore said. The expansion was due to ICs (13.3 per cent), disk media products (96.6 per cent) and parts of PCs (10.4 per cent).

Non-electronic re-exports increased 8.6 per cent, after an 18.1 per cent rise in the previous month. The expansion was due to structures of ships and boats (655.8 per cent), personal beauty products (34.5 per cent), and precious stones and pearls (75.9 per cent).

CAUTIOUS OUTLOOK

Despite the strong numbers, analysts told Reuters they are cautious about the outlook as they are wary about global trade in the coming months.

"The reflation story is starting to die off a little bit and the volumes have started to come down. We saw a pretty huge inventory build-up at the beginning of the year in China, and that phase appears to be coming to an end," said Mr Vaninder Singh, an economist at RBS.

Singapore's economy has struggled over the last two years, shrinking 1.9 per cent in the first quarter from the previous three months on an annualised basis.

Singapore's central bank also announced last week that it was holding its monetary policy steady and warned of risks to the global outlook, even with recent improvements in exports and broad economic growth momentum.

Source: CNA/Reuters/mz