Singapore non-oil exports dip in April after five straight months of growth

Containers at Tanjong Pagar Terminal of PSA International.
Containers at Tanjong Pagar Terminal of PSA International.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Non-oil domestic exports (NODX) disappointed with a 0.7 per cent year-on-year decline in April, after growing strongly for five straight months, as shipments of pharmaceuticals among some other non-electronic products slumped.

Analysts polled by Bloomberg were expecting April exports to rise by 13 per cent, a slower pace to March's robust 16.5 per cent growth.

Exports grew 21.1 per cent in February, 8.6 per cent in January, 9.1 per cent in December and 15.6 per cent in November.

The NODX drop in April was due to the decline in non-electronic exports which outweighed the growth in electronic sales, according to data released by International Enterprise (IE) Singapore on Wednesday (May 17).

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On a month-on-month seasonally adjusted basis, NODX fell by 9 per cent in April, compared to the previous month's 1.1 per cent decline. This was also much worse than the 1.4 per cent decline expected by analysts.

Exports to the countries in the European Union, Hong Kong, the US and Japan declined, outweighing the increases to Taiwan, South Korea, China, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand.

 

But notably, exports to China, Singapore's largest single market, rose by 10.9 per cent year-on-year, slowing from the 45.5 per cent surge enjoyed in March.

In other key markets, sales to the EU fell a hefty 36 per cent after rising 10 per cent in March, while shipments to the US dropped 9.6 per cent after rising 1.8 per cent the previous month.

Exports of non-electronic products shrank by 2.9 per cent year-on-year in April, reversing the 20.8 per cent expansion in March. Pharmaceuticals, non-electric engines & motors and non-monetary gold dropped by 39.9 per cent, 69.2 per cent and 23 per cent respectively, contributing the most to the decline in this sector.

Electronic exports rose by 4.8 per cent, about half the 9.3 per cent growth forecast by analysts. It was also slightly lower than the 5.2 per cent increase in March.

"The moderation in electronic NODX growth potentially point to tentative signs of a maturing tech cycle," said ANZ economist Ng Weiwen.

"Against this backdrop and with China reverting back to its old but unsustainable investment led growth model, we think that that it would be challenging for the recent strength in exports to be sustained the second half of 2017," he added.