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Singapore’s exports contract 7.2% in December

Non-electronic exports slumped 10.3 per cent while electronic exports declined 0.3 per cent, according to IE Singapore.

SINGAPORE: Non-oil domestic exports (NODX) in Singapore slumped further last month, hurt by a sharp decline in non-electronic exports, International Enterprise (IE) Singapore said on Monday (Jan 18).

On a year-on-year basis, NODX fell 7.2 per cent in December, after registering a 3.4 per cent decrease the previous month, according to the agency, which drives Singapore’s external trade.

"Electronics, pharmaceuticals, petrochemicals were lower. You would expect a bit of volatility from the pharmaceutical and petrochemicals," said Saktiandi Supaat, head of foreign-exchange research at Maybank.

“On the country contribution side in terms of our export markets, China led the decline followed by other periphery countries that contributed to the Chinese economy."

Exports of electronic products fell 0.3 per cent in December, in contrast to the 0.6 per cent growth in November. The contraction was mainly due to ICs (-11.3 per cent), parts of PCs (-13 per cent) and disk drives (-22 per cent), IE Singapore said.

Non-electronic exports declined by 10.3 per cent, following the 5.1 per cent decline in the previous month. The decrease was led by petrochemicals (-17.5 per cent), primary chemicals (-41.8 per cent) and civil engineering equipment parts (-43.5 per cent).

Exports to all of the top 10 markets – except the US, Japan and Hong Kong – fell in December. The top contributors to the decline were China, South Korea and Taiwan.

Non-oil re-exports (NORX) expanded by 0.8 per cent, following the 1.6 per cent growth in the previous month, due to an increase in non-electronic re-exports which outweighed the decline in electronic re-exports.

Electronic re-exports decreased by 3.5 per cent in December, compared to the 1 per cent growth in November. The contraction was due to ICs (-14.4 per cent), parts of ICs (-26.9 per cent) and capacitors (-20.9 per cent).

Non-electronic re-exports grew by 5.8 per cent, after the 2.3 per cent increase in the previous month. The rise was due to aircraft parts (71.8 per cent), nickel (124.4 per cent) and non-electric engines & motors (12.9 per cent), IE Singapore said.

Going forward, economists said demand for Singapore's exports is likely to be shaky and lacklustre. While the US recovery is on a firmer footing, closer to home, China's slowdown is expected to continue to weigh on the region's growth.

Selena Ling, head of treasury research and strategy at OCBC Bank, said: "Since oil prices are quite stuck below US$30 per barrel, it does look like the offshore marine sector will continue to have a hard time.

“Manufacturing in general - we're looking at flattish trajectory for 2016 as well. This comes on the back of 2015 where the manufacturing growth was quite poor on record. We do think continued slowdown in China will continue to be a drag on the region including Singapore.”

She added that the electronics exports side, however, is starting to see some stabilisation. “So hopefully, this is reflective of improving demand in the more developed economies like the US and also Europe,” said Ms Ling.