Singapore non-oil exports rise better-than-expected 12.8% in January

SINGAPORE – Singapore’s non-oil domestic exports (Nodx) surged 12.8 per cent in January from the low base a year ago, driven by shipments of specialised machinery, non-monetary gold, petrochemicals and electronics.

This was the fastest pace of growth since June, and topped economists’ expectations for a 5.4 per cent rise, according to a Reuters poll. Nodx rose 6.8 per cent year-on-year in December, its second straight month of growth.

On a month-on-month seasonally adjusted basis, Nodx rose by 7 per cent in January, following the previous month’s downwardly revised 4.8 per cent increase, figures from Enterprise Singapore (ESG) on Wednesday (Feb 17) showed.

Electronic exports grew 13.5 per cent in January, following the 13.7 per cent expansion in the previous month. Integrated circuits, telecommunications equipment and diodes and transistors expanded by 13.9 per cent, 65.1 per cent and 27.4 per cent respectively, contributing the most to the increase.

Non-electronic shipments rose by 12.5 per cent, bigger than the 5 per cent increase in December. Specialised machinery (+53.2 per cent), non-monetary gold (+70.9 per cent) and petrochemicals (+10.1 per cent) accounted for most of the growth.

Nodx to the top 10 markets as a whole grew last month, though domestic exports to the European Union, the US and Japan declined. The largest contributors to the Nodx increase were South Korea (+49.7 per cent), Thailand (+51.5 per cent) and Hong Kong (+42.7 per cent).

Notably, Nodx to emerging markets surged by 43.4 per cent, after expanding 28.3 per cent in December.  This was due mostly due to shipments to Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam (+235.3 per cent), South Asia (+12.7 per cent) and Latin America (+23.6 per cent).

In its annual trade performance review on Monday, ESG said Nodx expanded 4.3 per cent last year, reversing the 9.2 per cent decline recorded in 2019.

ESG upgraded its overall merchandise trade forecast to 2 per cent to 4 per cent growth for the whole of this year, up from the 1 per cent to 3 per cent tipped in November last year. This was on the back of higher expected oil prices which could support oil and total trade.

But it left its Nodx forecast unchanged at between 0 per cent and 2 per cent expansion, noting continued risks and uncertainties in the global economy.

ESG’s data on Wednesday showed total trade declined 1.9 per cent year on year in January, after dipping 0.3 per cent in December. This was mainly due to the continued slump in the oil trade due to lower oil prices as compared to a year ago.

Total exports grew 1.1 per cent in January, after the previous month’s 2.6 per cent increase. 

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