Singapore non-oil exports expected to shrink by 1% to 4%

Shipments to China, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Indonesia fell.
Shipments to China, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Indonesia fell.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

Singapore has cut its forecast for non-oil domestic exports (Nodx) as the coronavirus pandemic continues to stall trade and economic activities around the world.

Nodx is now projected to shrink by 1 per cent to 4 per cent this year, as trade promotion agency Enterprise Singapore (ESG) yesterday downgraded its 2020 forecast from its previous minus 0.5 per cent to plus 1.5 per cent projection made three months ago in February.

The latest revision came despite Nodx posting a 5.8 per cent year-on-year increase in the first three months of the year, thanks largely to a low base a year ago.

Nodx slipped by around 7 per cent in the first quarter of 2019 and plunged 9.2 per cent for the full year, the worst showing since the 2009 recession.

ESG tips total merchandise trade, which rose 0.6 per cent in the first quarter after declining since the second quarter of 2019, to dive minus 9 per cent to minus 12 per cent this year.

Even though many countries are starting to reopen their economies, ESG said "the global economy and trade are now expected to contract instead of grow in 2020 amid an escalation of the Covid-19 outbreak worldwide since February, with dampened outlook for most of our key trade partners; lower oil prices amid weakened demand to further weigh on our trade".

Nodx to Singapore's top 10 markets posted an increase in January-March this year, but shipments to China, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Indonesia fell.

The biggest contributors to the rise were the United States (+23.1 per cent), Thailand (+46.9 per cent) and the European Union (+15.1 per cent).

Non-oil exports increased 4 per cent on a yearly basis in the first quarter of this year. Non-oil re-exports also rose 2.9 per cent in the same period. But total services trade fell 3.5 per cent to $129.5 billion in the first quarter of this year.

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Nodx slipped by around 7 per cent in the first quarter of 2019 and plunged 9.2 per cent for the full year, the worst showing since the 2009 recession.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 27, 2020, with the headline 'Non-oil exports expected to shrink by 1% to 4%'. Subscribe