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19 February 2010

Singapore revises 2010 growth up as export markets recover

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Singapore on Friday raised its economic growth forecast this year as countries that buy most of its exports emerge from recession, AFP reported.

The upgrade from 3.0-5.0 percent to 4.5-6.5 percent came after economic growth gathered pace in the fourth quarter, allowing the economy to contract by a slower-than-predicted 2.0 percent for 2009, the Ministry of Trade and Industry said.

But the ministry said the outlook is fraught with uncertainty, especially in the second half of the year with the recovery in the United States, Europe and Japan expected to be weaker.

Debt risks in some European countries are also potential minefields for economic growth, it said.

"The Ministry of Trade and Industry expects the Singapore economy to grow by 4.5 to 6.5 per cent in 2010. This upgrade from the earlier 3.0 to 5.0 per cent forecast largely reflects increased strength in the near term growth momentum," the ministry said in a statement.

"Major economies around the world have emerged from recession. Financial markets have stabilised and trade flows and industrial production have also picked up strongly.

"Asia should experience a strong recovery, but the pace of the rebound in the United States, Europe and Japan, collectively called the G3 countries, is likely to be weaker.

"In addition, several downside risks remain, including sovereign debt risks (especially in Europe) and asset price inflation in Asia. These factors could weigh on the pace of growth in major economies, especially in the later part of 2010," the ministry said.

Singapore slipped into recession in the third quarter of 2008 after being hammered by the global economic crisis that followed the collapse of US investment bank Lehman Brothers.

There had been fears the economy in 2009 would post its worst contraction since independence more than 40 years ago.

But the recovery was faster than many had predicted and Singapore declared the recession over in November last year.

Singapore's worst recession since gaining independence in 1965 took place in 2001 when GDP shrank 2.4 percent.


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