Singapore's manufacturing output up 13% in April, boosted by biomedical cluster

Singapore's manufacturing output up 13% in April, boosted by biomedical cluster

FILE PHOTO: workers at a healthcare distributor facility in Singapore
FILE PHOTO: Workers at a healthcare distributor facility in Singapore. (AFP/Roslan Rahman)

SINGAPORE: Singapore's manufacturing output increased by 13 per cent in April, the second straight month of a year-on-year rise, but this was once again largely down to gains made by the biomedical manufacturing cluster.

Excluding this cluster, the country's output fell 3.5 per cent due to COVID-19 related measures implemented locally and overseas, said the Economic Development Board (EDB) on Tuesday (May 26).

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Output for biomedical manufacturing increased 100.5 per cent in April compared to the same period a year ago. 

EDB said the pharmaceuticals segment was the main driver, which grew 141.3 per cent, following higher production of active pharmaceutical ingredients and biological products. 

But within the cluster, medical technology output fell 2.9 per cent. On a year-to-date basis, the biomedical manufacturing cluster grew 62.2 per cent compared to the same period a year ago.

Precision engineering was another cluster that experienced year-on-year growth, expanding 5.9 per cent in April. 

Manufacturers in the machinery and systems segment saw a 10.3 per cent jump, which EDB attributed to higher production of semiconductor equipment.

However, the precision modules and component segment contracted 5.6 per cent. This was due to dampened demand and disrupted operations locally and in key export markets from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Between January and April this year, the precision engineering cluster grew 16.5 per cent.

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Output for electronics recorded a modest 0.8 per cent year-on-year jump in April, with the semiconductors segments growing 3.6 per cent while the rest of the electronics segments contracted.

However, overall electronics output fell 7.4 per cent in the first four months of 2020 compared to the same period last year.

The transport engineering cluster saw the biggest drop, falling 24.1 per cent in April, on a year-on-year-basis.

All the segments within the cluster recorded declines, led by land transport, which fell 33.9 per cent, followed by aerospace (-28.1 per cent) and marine and offshore engineering (-14.6 per cent).

EDB said the contraction in aerospace was due to lower repair and maintenance activities with airplanes grounded amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Overall, the output from the transport engineering cluster fell 3.7 per cent in the first four months of 2020.

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Chemicals output fell 6.8 per cent in the last month, with the decline largely due to petroleum and petrochemicals, which saw a fall of 5.9 per cent and 11.7 per cent respectively. 

"Output of these two segments were affected by plant maintenance shutdowns, as well as a slowdown in demand arising from lockdowns in key export markets to curb the COVID-19 outbreak," said EDB.

Output of chemicals fell 1.8% in the first four months of the year compared to the same period in 2019.

General manufacturing fell 20.2 per cent in April on a year-on-year basis, with lower export demand and scaled down production due to "circuit breaker" measures. 

Food, beverage and tobacco fell 14.2 per cent with lower production of beverage concentrates, milk powder and confectionery.

Printing and miscellaneous industries fell 26.1 per cent  and 27.1 per cent respectively, with the latter registering lower output of construction-related products. 

On a year-to-date basis, output of the general manufacturing industries declined 6.8 per cent compared to the same period a year ago.

The next monthly manufacturing performance media release will be issued on Jun 26.

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Source: CNA/lk(ac)

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