Singapore's non-oil exports expand 16.5% in March, beating forecasts and rising for 5th straight month

Containers at Tanjong Pagar Terminal of PSA International.
Containers at Tanjong Pagar Terminal of PSA International. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Singapore's non-oil domestic exports (Nodx) in March rose 16.5 per cent year on year in March, easily beating market expectations and expanding for a fifth straight month.

The rise, came after shipments jumped 21.5 per cent in February, the strongest growth in five years albeit with a low base in the previous year, 8.6 per cent in January, 9.1 per cent in December and 15.6 per cent in November.

Economists polled by Bloomberg had tipped Nodx to rise 7.3 per cent year on year last month.

Notably, exports to China, Singapore's single largest market, continued to shine but the recent surge in electronics Nodx eased and was outshone by the continued strong performance of non-electronic shipments, the figures released by International Enterprise (IE) Singapore on Monday (April 17) showed.

On a month on month seasonally adjusted (SA) basis, exports decreased by 1.1 per cent in March, after the previous month's 1.1 per cent growth, due to the decline in electronic Nodx which outweighed the rise in non-electronic shipments. On a SA basis, shipments reached S$14.9 billion last month, lower than the S$15.1 billion in February.

Non-oil Retained Imports of Intermediate Goods. GRAPHIC: IE SINGAPORE

Nodx to the top 10 markets rose in March with China again the top contributor with sales growing by 45.5 per cent year on year, extending the previous month's 65.1 per cent jump. Other top performing markets in March were Taiwan (+32.5 per cent) and Hong Kong (+17.4 per cent).

Shipments to the US, the second biggest source of final demand for Singapore goods, rose a slim 1.8 per cent in March, following a 1.4 per cent rise the previous month.


Electronic Nodx increased by 5.2 per cent in March from a year ago, cooling from the 17.2 per cent growth in the previous month. ICs, parts of PCs and consumer electronics grew by 7.8 per cent, 33.9 per cent and 29.9 per cent respectively, and they contributed the most to growth in this segment.


Non-electronic shipments swelled by 20.8 per cent, after the 22.7 per cent expansion in the previous month. Petrochemicals, specialised machinery and structural parts made of iron, steel & aluminium increased by 42.8 per cent, 70.1 per cent and 4,697.5 per cent respectively, contributing the most to the rise in non-electronic Nodx.

Private-sector economists were expecting Singapore's trade expansion to continue, supported by a broad recovery in global trade, though some said the double digit percentage growth would slow to single digit by mid-year.

Last Thursday, Singapore's central bank held its Singapore dollar-based monetary policy unchanged at zero appreciation and warned of risks to the global outlook from the threats of trade protectionism and geopolitical tensions, despite acknowledging recent improvements in exports and broad economic growth momentum.