Singapore exports down 4.8% in September after flat growth in August

Singapore exports down 4.8% in September after flat growth in August

Non-oil domestic exports fell 4.8 per cent last month, after flat growth in August, according to latest figures released by IE Singapore.

Singapore Port
A view of the container port in Singapore. (File photo: MPA)

SINGAPORE: Exports in Singapore fell a disappointing 4.8 per cent in September, after flat growth the previous month, according to latest figures released by International Enterprise (IE) Singapore on Monday (Oct 17).

Non-oil domestic exports (NODX) were hit by a decline in both electronic and non-electronic exports.

Electronic shipments fell 6.6 per cent, following a 6 per cent decline the previous month. The contraction was largely due to ICs (-6.3 per cent), disk drives (-55 per cent) and parts of PCs (-22.4 per cent), IE Singapore said.

Non-electronic exports contracted 4 per cent, in contrast to a 2.7 per cent expansion the previous month. The decline was led by structures of ships and boats (-99.9 per cent), civil engineering equipment parts (-47.6 per cent) and petrochemicals (-6.5 per cent).

Overall, shipments to seven of Singapore’s top 10 markets fell, with Malaysia, Indonesia and the US leading the decline. Bucking the trend were exports to Hong Kong, the European Union and South Korea, which rose between 9.9 per cent and 23.8 per cent.

Non-oil re-exports rose 1.2 per cent last month, down from an 8.5 per cent increase in August. This was mainly due to an increase in non-electronic re-exports which outweighed the decrease in electronic re-exports, IE Singapore said.

Despite the unexpected decline overall, one economist said he still sees opportunities going forward.

Mr Francis Tan, an economist at UOB, said: "The only key bright spot we can look at is that China is still maintaining a 6.5 per cent to 7 per cent kind of growth.

"Another bright spot would be continued recovery in the American economy. If ... Hillary (Clinton) wins (the presidential election), that will be more pro-trade and the economic recovery in the US will boost the consumption demand in the US. That means the import demand will also move higher - the exports around Asia and Singapore are going to be boosted a little bit more in 2017."

However, another economist said the weakness in the external trade environment will continue to limit any sort of recovery.

"We continue to see this risk of external weakness spilling into domestic activity and continuing to weigh on growth," said Mr Weiwen Ng, an economist at ANZ. "So if you look at what MAS did last Friday during their monetary policy statement, they’ve indicated their preference for a weaker currency but to us on the downturn, a weaker currency on trade for Singapore would be marginal at best due to this subdued global trade environment."

September's NODX numbers were released on the back of the official full-year gross domestic product growth forecast last week, which was narrowed to between 1 and 2 per cent.

Source: CNA/cy