Local manufacturers, exporters 'less upbeat'

Singapore manufacturing and export companies are less confident about the outlook over the next six months amid the economic slowdown, a recent survey shows.

The results of the biannual poll yielded a confidence score of 109, down from 135 in the previous poll and below Asia's average of 118.

The survey polled 6,300 small and medium-sized enterprises - including 112 in Singapore - in the export, import and trading industries.

Fewer than half of local respondents expect trade volumes to rise in the next six months, down from 80 per cent in the previous poll, while more than one-fifth expect trade volumes to drop.

The downbeat sentiment is a result of the economic slowdown, said Mr Joseph Arena, Singapore head of trade and receivables finance at HSBC, which commissioned the survey.

"Sluggish regional trade from a slowing of China, lower commodity demand and prices, reduced consumer activity and currency volatility weighed on Singapore's economic growth this year," he said.

Meanwhile, figures yesterday showed exports from China fell a more-than-expected 6.8 per cent year-on-year last month.

Against that backdrop, Singapore's Purchasing Managers' Index - which gauges manufacturing activity - remained in contraction territory for the fifth straight month last month.

The HSBC survey also shows that Singapore companies are much less optimistic about growth opportunities in the region. The number of companies wishing to explore the Indonesian market, for instance, fell from 20 per cent six months ago to 3 per cent.

Despite the findings, HSBC expects a gradual recovery, with growth in global merchandise trade volumes tipped to rise from around 3 per cent next year to 5 per cent by 2018 to 2020.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 09, 2015, with the headline 'Local manufacturers, exporters 'less upbeat''. Print Edition | Subscribe