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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs        18  June 2011

Singapore exports increase

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Singapore's non-oil domestic exports (NODX) grew 7.8 percent in May, contributed by a rise in non-electronic domestic exports.

IE Singapore said this is in contrast to the 2 per centcontraction in April. This is also above a consensus forecast of a 4.8 percent rise.

Non-electronic NODX expanded by 23 percent in May. The rise in non-electronic NODX was led by pharmaceuticals, ships & boats and specialised machinery.

IE Singapore said electronic NODX however contracted by 15.2 per cent after falling 11 per cent in April. The decline was largely due to parts of ICs, parts of PCs and disk drives.

The decline was not a surprise, following the earthquake and tsunami in Japan in March that led to a supply chain disruption. But the worst could be over soon.

Irvin Seah, Vice President of DBS Group Research, said: "To some extent, the supply chain disruption due to the earthquake in Japan has certainly affected our electronic exports sales. That was manifested in the electronics exports sales number in April and again in May.

"However, if you look at the numbers more carefully in terms of absolute dollar value, electronics export numbers have remained relatively unchanged in dollar value compared to April. This implies that probably we've seen the bottom of the electronics down cycle and also the fact that the downside impact coming from Japan earthquake is more likely to be limited and also transient in nature.

"So going forward, given the fact that regional demand has remained relatively buoyant and the fact that consumption growth in the US has remained fairly resilient even despite the weak labour market, this could actually point to a gradual recovery in the electronics exports sales in the second half of the year.

"Lastly we have to take into account that reconstruction efforts in Japan will likely lead to increased demand coming from Japan from July onwards."

The trade promotion agency said NODX to all of the top 10 markets, except Hong Kong and Japan, rose.

The top three contributors to the NODX rise in May 2011 were the European Union, Taiwan and China.

Mr Alvin Liew, Senior Economist with UOB, said: "However, when we compared the May export performance to key export markets against the previous month, a different picture emerges. Exports to Europe and the US declined by 1.6 percent and 4.4 percent month on month, even as the rest of the key markets recorded robust growth."

"This may mean that demand from US and Europe could be waning and this may bode ill for Singapore's manufacturers as they are still Singapore's top two export destinations."

According to HSBC's Mr Leif Eskesen, Chief Economist for India and ASEAN, further moderation in exports growth can be expected in the near term, given the anticipated slowdown in global growth related to the global inventory correction and the Japan natural disaster-related supply chain disruptions.

He said: "Exports should slow in the near term as the global soft patch unfolds. However, things are looking up at home, which will continue to keep the MAS guarded against a further build up in inflation pressures.

"A strong domestic economy is setting the cash registers ringing, which was evident from April's strong reading for retail sales. Supported by this, overall growth in the economy is expected to remain strong enough to keep capacity tight and inflation pressures lingering. Indeed, these could pick up again as the economy gets a second wind during the latter half of the year.


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