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Singapore trade falls 9.5% in 2015 amid declining oil trade

Singapore's total merchandise trade fell 9.5 per cent in 2015 to S$884 billion, according to data released by IE Singapore.

SINGAPORE: Trade in Singapore declined overall in 2015 as a decline in oil trade outweighed growth in non-oil trade, according to data released by International Enterprise (IE) Singapore on Wednesday (Feb 24).

Total merchandise trade decreased 9.5 per cent in 2015 to S$884.1 billion, down from S$997 billion in the previous year. Total merchandise exports fell 7.2 per cent in 2015, while merchandise imports declined 12.1 per cent in the same period.

The decline came as oil trade contracted 36 per cent in 2015, while non-oil trade expanded by 0.4 per cent.

The fall in total merchandise trade in 2015 came in higher than IE Singapore’s projected figure of -10.5 to -10 per cent.

On a year-on-year basis, total merchandise trade fell 7.7 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2015 as the decrease in oil trade outweighed the growth in non-oil trade. In the fourth quarter, oil trade fell 35.3 per cent year-on-year, while non-oil trade grew 0.7 per cent. 

OIL EXPORTS FALL

Oil exports plunged 32.2 per cent in 2015 amid lower shipments to Malaysia, Indonesia and Australia. In volume terms however, oil domestic exports grew 6.8 per cent in 2015.

Oil re-exports fell as well, contracting 41.3 per cent in 2015. The decline was mainly due to falling shipments to Indonesia, Malaysia and Australia as well. In volume terms, oil-re-exports expanded 1.8 per cent in 2015.

Non-oil exports (NOX), which includes both non-oil domestic exports (NODX) and non-oil re-exports (NORX), expanded 1 per cent in 2015. On a year-on-year basis, NOX grew 0.3 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2015.

NODX edged down 0.1 per cent in 2015 amid lower exports of non-electronic products. Electronic NODX, which includes the export of PCs and telecommunications equipment, rose 0.5 per cent in 2015. Non-electronic NODX, which include petrochemicals and non-monetary gold, fell 0.4 per cent in 2015.

NORX rose 1.9 per cent amid an increase in electronic re-exports. Electronic NORX went up by 3.6 per cent in 2015 on the back of higher re-exports of telecommunications equipment and diodes and transistors. Meanwhile, non-electronic re-exports saw flat growth in 2015.

Looking ahead, the growth forecast for NODX in 2016 will remain at between 0 and 2 per cent, said IE Singapore. However, the trade agency revised the growth projection for total merchandise trade downwards, to between -1 and 1 per cent.

Global growth is expected to be marginally better than in 2015, but lower commodity prices, especially the continued decline in oil prices, is expected to weigh on the value of total trade, explained IE Singapore.