Singapore exports in worse-than-expected 9.7 per cent slump in February year on year

SINGAPORE - Exports from the Republic's factories slumped 9.7 per cent in February compared with the same month last year as a global slowdown - especially in China - took a heavy toll on shipments.

Non-oil domestic exports, the most widely-used measure of exports, had increased 4.3 per cent in January.

The latest figures were well below market expectations of a mere 0.4 per cent contraction though export figures here can be volatile from month to month.

The latest grim set of figures, released Tuesday by trade agency International Enterprise Singapore, will increase concerns that Singapore's first quarter economic growth will be weak.

IE Singapore said the three biggest factors accounting for the poor showing last month were mainland China, Japan and Taiwan.

Of these China was the worst performer, with exports to the mainland crashing by 22.7 per cent in February, reversing 4.5 per cent expansion in January.

Hardest hit were exports from here to China of petrochemicals, primary chemicals and disk media products.

China's economy has been slowing in recent months, sparking fears that this global economic powerhouse might drag down other economies in its wake.

Of Singapore's top 10 export markets, only the United States, Thailand and Malaysia did not record falls in year-on-year terms.

One of the most important export sectors, electronics, did very poorly, shrinking 12.5 per cent from a year earlier - and reversing a hopeful 5 per cent growth recorded in January.

Non-electronics exports slid 8.5 per cent last month, in contrast to a 4 per cent rise in January, IE Singapore said.