Singapore sees exports decline again

Weak electronics sector and falling US demand sees exports slump for third time in four months

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 18 December, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 18 December, 2012, 2:33am

Singapore's exports unexpectedly fell for the third time in four months last month as shipments of electronics slumped and companies sold fewer goods to US customers.

Non-oil domestic exports fell 2.5 per cent last month from a year earlier, after a 7.9 per cent gain in October, the trade promotion agency said in a statement yesterday.

The median of 11 estimates in a survey was for a 1.7 per cent increase.

Singapore lowered its 2012 forecasts for export growth and economic expansion last month, as a global slowdown weighs on demand for its goods and services.

A report last week showed US companies were keeping inventories lean amid concern a recovery could stall if the country failed to avert a package of government spending cuts and tax increases which are set to take effect early next year.

"We expect electronics exports to underperform in 2013," Chester Liaw, a Singapore-based economist at Forecast Pte, said before the report.

"We only expect a 2 per cent rise in non-oil domestic exports over 2013, and that's coming on the back of a series of low base effects in electronics."

Singapore's exports are forecast by the Trade Ministry to rise 2 per cent to 3 per cent in 2012, and up to 4 per cent next year.

Electronics shipments by companies such as Venture Corp fell 16.5 per cent last month from a year earlier.

That compared to an 0.8 per cent slip in shipments the previous month, according to the report.

Non-electronics shipments, which include petrochemicals and pharmaceuticals, climbed 6.3 per cent.

Petrochemical exports gained 4.1 per cent, while pharmaceutical shipments increased 29.6 per cent after rising 2.7 per cent in October.

Singapore's non-oil exports fell a seasonally adjusted 0.3 per cent last month from October, when they dropped 1.2 per cent, yesterday's report showed.