SINGAPORE: Exports in Singapore posted a surprising turnaround last month on the back of a surge in non-electronic exports, according to latest figures released by International Enterprise (IE) Singapore on Friday (Jun 17).
Non-oil domestic exports (NODX) rebounded 11.6 per cent in May, recovering from a 7.9 per cent slide in April partly caused by shrinking demand from China and the United States.
Exports to China - Singapore's largest export market - declined for the 11th straight month in May with a 10.1 per cent contraction, following a 7.4 per cent fall in April. But exports to US rebounded, rising 9.1 per cent after a 7 per cent fall in the previous month, making it the second-largest contributor to the jump in exports after Taiwan.
Shipments to seven of Singapore’s top 10 markets declined, with South Korea, the European Union and Hong Kong leading the slump, according to trade agency IE Singapore.
Exports of non-monetary gold products saw a jump of 436.7 per cent on-year, while pharmaceuticals saw an increase of 5.6 per cent.
Overall, Singapore's exports of non-electronic products surged 19 per cent, in contrast to an 8.1 per cent contraction in April. Electronic exports declined 6 per cent, following a 7.4 per cent decline in the previous month.
Even though electronic exports contracted, one economist said this trend could reverse going forward.
"There could be some signs of improvement, but it could be very modest, given that industrial production has been slightly improving on both the electronics and biomedical manufacturing side," said Mr Jeff Ng, an economist at Standard Chartered Bank. "However, we have not seen them translate into strong export growth for now. So if this current trend persists, we may actually see some of the electronics exports improve going slightly forward."
Non-oil re-exports (NORX) shrank 2.8 per cent in May, mainly due to a 7.9 per cent decline in electronic re-exports. In contrast, re-exports of non-electronic products rose 2.7 per cent.
Looking forward, Mr Ng said growth momentum still remains weak, and is likely to persist to the end of the year at least.
He said: "I think the outlook for the non-oil domestic exports going forward is that it's still continuing to look pretty lacklustre. And I think going to the second half of the year, we may see some modest improvements. But I don't think we could see some significant improvements given that commodity prices - even though they are on the uptrend - still remain pretty flat at the moment.
"So only if some of the input prices trend up firmly, then we could start to see some of the manufactured goods prices start to go up, and overall export values."
Brent oil prices hit a low of around US$27 a barrel in February this year, before recovering to more than US$40 since April.