Singapore exports fall 2.7% in March in second month of decline

Singapore exports fall 2.7% in March in second month of decline

Tanjong Pagar terminal
A general view of Tanjong Pagar container terminal is seen in Singapore on March 17, 2017. (Photo: AFP/Roslan Rahman)  

SINGAPORE: Non-oil domestic exports (NODX) in Singapore declined by 2.7 per cent over the year in March, according to statistics released by trade agency Enterprise Singapore on Tuesday (Apr 16).

The decline eased from the 6 per cent drop in February as both electronic and non-electronic exports decreased at a slower pace, but was worse than the 0.2 per cent increase predicted by economists in a Reuters poll.

On a month-on-month seasonally adjusted basis, NODX decreased by 1.8 per cent in March, after the previous month’s 2.7 per cent decline.

Industry watchers said that the data indicates that exports and manufacturing growth will continue slowing throughout the rest of the year, although it is not indicative of a broader regional export downturn.

"The negative read is partly due to the high base from last year and translation effects from a stronger Singapore dollar," noted Maybank Kim Eng analysts Chua Hak Bin and Lee Ju Ye in a note.

"(The) data does not represent a broader regional export downturn. First, the stronger Singapore dollar, which has appreciated by around 10 per cent against the Us dollar since early 2017, partly explains the weaker read ... Second, other Asian countries are reporting relatively robust exports for March," the analysts said.

Shipments to six out of 10 of Singapore's top markets increased in March, with growth led by the US, Japan and EU. Exports to China – Singapore's biggest market – as well as Hong Kong, Thailand and Malaysia declined.

Electronic exports declined by 7.1 per cent in March, improving from the 12.7 per cent decrease in the previous month. 

Part of PCs, ICs and diodes and transistors declined by 51.2 per cent, 6.3 per cent and 24.6 per cent respectively, and they contributed the most to the decrease in electronic domestic exports, said Enterprise Singapore.

Non-electronic shipments decreased by 1.3 per cent from the high base a year ago, after the 3.3 per cent decline in the previous month. 

Non-monetary gold, structural parts made up of iron, steel and aluminium, and aircraft parts decreased by 55.1 per cent, 95.3 per cent and 53.6 per cent respectively, contributing the most to the decline in non-electronic shipments.

"March NODX confirmed the views reiterated in our past reports that base effects have started to kick in. The very strong on-year growth rates in exports for most of the past year may not be sustained as we move towards the second half of 2018," said UOB economist Francis Tan.

Source: CNA/mn(cy)