Singapore struggles as trade wars continue

Imports and Exports | 18 June 2019

Trade wars and reduced demand for electronics have contributed to a fall in exports from Singapore.


Singapore's non-oil domestic exports (NODX) have fallen to a three-year low as international trade wars continue to take their toll on trade and demand, new figures have shown.

According to Enterprise Singapore, a government body that tracks trade figures, exports contracted by 15.9 per cent year-on-year in May.

This was the third consecutive month of contraction, although the decline was slightly smaller than the 16.5 per cent predicted by economists in a recent Reuters poll.

Outbound shipments to China were found to have fallen by ten per cent year-on-year, while exports to Indonesia, Thailand and Japan contracted 26.5 per cent, 8.5 per cent and 9.7 per cent respectively.

In particular, electronics exports from Singapore were found to have taken a hit as demand from the Chinese market declined.

"The slowdown in exports [was] due to trade war effects, weakening regional demand and poor overseas sales of electronic products [among other factors]," a statement said.

Enterprise Singapore and MIDF Research now expects the country's external trade performance to remain subdued amid the escalating trade war between China and the US.

Robert Carnell, chief economist at ING, also pointed to a wider fall in demand for electronics as part of the reason for Singapore's drop in exports.

Last month, Singapore cut its 2019 economic growth forecast to between 1.5 and 2.5 per cent after recording the slowest growth in a decade during the first quarter.

The country relies heavily on exports - which amounted to more than 173 per cent of its GDP in 2017, according to the World Bank - so these new statistics are sure to come as a further blow.

Only the economies of Luxembourg and Hong Kong are more dependent on sending products and services abroad for trade.