Singapore non-oil exports jump 17.9% in October for biggest rise in four years

The pace of annual growth was quicker than the 15.1 per cent forecast by economists in a Bloomberg poll. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Singapore's non-oil domestic exports (Nodx) defied analyst expectations and supply chain disruptions to rack up their biggest increase in four years last month.

October's robust performance was underpinned by a pick-up in both electronic and non-electronic shipments despite widespread pandemic restrictions and other headwinds.

Nodx rose by 17.9 per cent last month - the biggest leap since October 2017, when shipments soared 20.5 per cent.

It was also the 11th consecutive year-on-year gain following a revised 12 per cent increase in September, said Enterprise Singapore (ESG) on Wednesday (Nov 17). The pace of annual growth was quicker than the 15.1 per cent forecast by economists in a Bloomberg poll.

Shipments to Singapore's top markets as a whole rose last month, although exports to Thailand, the United States and Hong Kong declined.

Analysts said the pick-up in demand from Asian markets was surprising, given the slowdown in economic growth from China to South-east Asia due to renewed Covid-19 curbs imposed in the last quarter.

"The expansion in October was led by China, Malaysia and Taiwan, which suggests that the regional economic recovery remains intact despite the recent economic growth dent from the Delta resurgence," said Ms Selena Ling, head of treasury research and strategy at OCBC Bank.

Ms Ling said the four-year high suggests that the twin engines of electronic and non-electronic exports are still firing, noting: "This is a testament that global demand remains healthy and global supply chain bottlenecks have not impacted Singapore's trade sector significantly."

Shipments grew 10.6 per cent year on year in October on a three-month moving average, after slowing to a 9 per cent increase in September and 10.2 per cent expansion in August. Still, the pace was less than the 12.4 per cent gain in July.

Ms Priyanka Kishore, head of India and South-east Asia at Oxford Economics, said Singapore's export momentum has picked up across the board, adding that she expects strong electronics demand to keep the positive momentum intact for the rest of the year.

ESG said Nodx growth over the year was led by non-electronic goods such as non-monetary gold, specialised machinery and petrochemicals.

Non-electronic shipments grew by 18.9 per cent last month, following the 11.4 per cent rise in September.

Non-monetary gold shipments surged 223.2 per cent, specialised machinery grew 49.3 per cent and petrochemicals rose 39.1 per cent.

Exports from the linchpin electronics sector expanded 14.9 per cent year on year, extending the 14.1 per cent gain in September.

Shipments of integrated circuits (ICs) rose 22.6 per cent, PCs were up 18.1 per cent and exports of diodes and transistors rose by 19.8 per cent.

Ms Ling said that while the low base from a year ago for non-monetary gold and petrochemicals did contribute to October's Nodx performance, other export segments, such as ICs, PCs and diodes and transistors, as well as specialised machinery, remain in healthy demand.

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