Singapore factory output grows 14.3% in December, up 7.3% for 2020

The precision engineering cluster expanded by 11 per cent. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

SINGAPORE - Singapore's manufacturing output extended its rebound in December and notched another month of better-than-expected performance, with electronics, chemicals and precision engineering driving growth.

Factory output expanded 14.3 per cent year on year last month, according to data by the Economic Development Board (EDB) released on Tuesday (Jan 26).

This beat the median forecast of economists polled by Bloomberg who tipped growth of 12 per cent.

Excluding biomedical manufacturing, output grew 19.8 per cent.

Overall, manufacturing output increased 7.3 per cent last year, compared with 2019.

In December, electronics output expanded 41.8 per cent. This growth was attributed to the semiconductor segment, which grew 51 per cent, EDB noted, as well as the computer peripherals and data storage segment, which grew 9.3 per cent.

"The semiconductor segment was supported by 5G markets and a low production base from a year ago," EDB said.

But the infocomms and consumer electronics segment and "other electronic modules and components" segment saw output fall.

Overall, the electronics cluster expanded 11.9 per cent in 2020 compared with 2019.

The chemicals cluster also grew, by 12.3 per cent year on year, with all segments recording output growth except the petroleum segment. The petrochemicals and specialities segments grew 17.9 per cent and 16.9 per cent respectively from a year ago, when production was low due in part to plant maintenance shutdowns.

The "others" segment in the chemicals cluster increased 14.1 per cent on account of higher production of fragrances.

But for the whole of 2020, the chemicals cluster's output dipped by 1 per cent compared with 2019.

The precision engineering cluster also expanded, by 11 per cent, with the machinery and systems segment growing 12.6 per cent with higher output of semiconductor equipment and measuring devices.

The precision modules and components segment rose 6.3 per cent on account of higher production of optical instrument and metal precision components.

In 2020, precision engineering output increased 10.6 per cent compared with 2019.

General manufacturing output also grew, by 5.9 per cent, with increases in the food, beverages and tobacco segment thanks to higher production of beverage products and milk powder.

Overall, output of the general manufacturing cluster was 11.3 per cent lower in 2020 compared with 2019.

On the other hand, biomedical manufacturing output fell by 13.2 per cent. The medical technology segment grew 7.3 per cent with higher export demand for medical devices. But the pharmaceuticals segment fell 22.8 per cent with lower production of biological products.

Overall, the biomedical manufacturing cluster's output still rose 23.7 per cent in 2020 compared with 2019.

With the coronavirus pandemic, transport engineering output fell 31.5 per cent year on year.

The land segment rose 4.2 per cent, while the marine and offshore engineering segment fell 30.8 per cent. The aerospace segment contracted 41.8 per cent.

"The level of activity in the aerospace firms and shipyards remained low as new orders were adversely impacted by travel restrictions and weak global oil and gas market," EDB said.

Transport engineering output contracted 25.7 per cent in 2020 compared with 2019.

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