Singapore non-oil exports rebound in November with surprise 11.5% jump

Cranes at Tanjong Pagar container port in Singapore, on Nov 17, 2016.
Cranes at Tanjong Pagar container port in Singapore, on Nov 17, 2016.PHOTO: AFP

SINGAPORE - Singapore's exports rebounded in November, reversing from a 12 per cent tumble the previous month, as sales to the major markets of the European Union and China surged.

Non-oil domestic exports (NODX) last month grew 11.5 per cent from a year earlier as both electronic and non-electronic sales rose, said International Enterprise (IE) Singapore on Friday (Dec 16). Economists polled by Reuters were expecting November NODX to drop by 3 per cent, meaning a third straight monthly fall.

October's poor export performance had raised the risk of a recession in Singapore's trade-dependent economy amid heightened uncertainty around global trade in the wake of Donald Trump's US election victory.

Singapore exports have been stuck in negative growth territory for most of this year and economists polled by the central bank most recently have forecast NODX to shrink 4.4 per cent this year, worse than an earlier projection of a 3.6 per cent contraction.

Credit Suisse economist Michael Wan said it is still too early to tell if the November data signals a sustained improvement for trade or is a one-off. Still, he noted that electronics manufacturers have turned in a few months of stronger numbers and appear to be doing better going into 2017.

On a month-on-month and seasonally adjusted basis, November exports rose 13.1 per cent, in contrast to the previous month's 3.6 per cent fall, and far higher than the 0.5 per cent rise expected by analysts.


In November, shipments to Singapore's top 10 markets grew, except for Japan, Thailand and Indonesia. The largest contributors to the increase in NODX were the EU (up 48.3 per cent), Hong Kong (up 38.1 per cent) and China (up 15.9 per cent).

NODX totalled S$13.9 billion in November, higher than the S$12.3 billion registered in the previous month.

On a year on year basis, electronic shipments grew 3.5 per cent in November, compared to the 6 per cent decline in the previous month. The increase in electronic domestic exports was largely due to ICs (+10.6 per cent), parts of PCs (+30.5 per cent) and disk media products (+9.7 per cent).

Non-electronic sales expanded by 15.3 per cent, in contrast to the 14.6 per cent decline in the previous month.

UOB economist Francis Tan said the surprisingly strong showing in November was not enough to change his forecast of a 4.1 per cent drop in NODX this year. But he forecasts that NODX will "finally break the contractionary barrier and grow 0.7 per cent in 2017, although it is still a very weak growth".