Singapore’s export slump is worrying sign for the global economy

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As a global barometer for the health of the global economy, Singapore continues to paint a bleak picture at present.

Not only did its economy fail to grow in the first three months of the year, demand for the nation’s exports is now also plummeting.

According to International Enterprise (IE), non-oil exports (NODX) from the country fell by 15.6% in the 12 months to March, missing already dire forecasts for a contraction of 13.2%.

The annual contraction was the steepest recorded since February 2013 and well below the 2.0% annual gain previously recorded in February.


By destination, NODX fell by 39.1% year-on-year to the European Union, outpacing drops of 14.0% and 6.2% to China and the United States.

Out of the nation’s top 10 export destinations, NODX fell in all markets apart from Japan and Hong Kong.

According to the Straits Times newspaper, electronic shipments — a key cog in nation’s export sector — slumped by 9.1% year-on-year in March, a sharp turnaround on the 0.7% gain reported in the year to February.

Non-electronic NODX fell 18%, again well below the 2.6% rise seen in the 12 months to February. The fall was led by structures of ships & boats (-99.6%), pharmaceuticals (-30.9%) and petrochemicals (-16.4%), according to the newspaper.

On a month-on-month, seasonally-adjusted basis, NODX rose by 0.2%, an improvement on the 4.2% contraction seen in February but below expectations for an increase of 2.3%.

Although the data is volatile, exports have now contracted on an annualised basis in three of the past four months. As a major global trade hub, the continued weakness in exports suggests global demand remains weak, underscoring concerns from the IMF and others that global economic growth may once again undershoot expectations in 2016.

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