Singapore’s exports tumbled in March as sales to key markets — China, U.S. and Europe — saw sharp declines, official data released Monday showed. Non-oil exports slumped 15.6 percent in March, missing expectations of a 13.2 percent decline according to a Reuters analysts’ poll.
The contraction is the biggest drop in a year, with electronics and pharmaceutical sectors hit the worst in the trade-dependent city-state, the latest figures released by International Enterprise Singapore showed.
Industry watchers dismissed the chances of a revival in exports in the near term. "If there's no dramatic pick-up, I think NODX [Non-oil domestic exports] would almost certainly be negative for the year," Vishnu Varathan, a senior economist for Mizuho Bank in Singapore, told Reuters.
Exports of electronic products contracted 9.1 percent, compared to a 0.7 percent expansion in February. The decline in electronic exports was largely due to a fall in shipments of personal computers — down by a fourth — and PC components.
However, Singapore’s pharmaceutical exports contracted the most, falling 30.9 percent from a year earlier, with exports to Europe down by almost 60 percent.
Overall exports to China, Singapore’s biggest trade partner, fell 14.0 percent in March from a year earlier, compared with a 1.2 percent slide in February.
“Exports to China have been falling and that has been the main drag on overall export performance. In addition, the slowdown in China is structural in nature. And that suggests that the current NODX weakness may persist for a while," DBS said ahead of the Monday's report, according to the Straits Times.
The dismal data underscored the views of the city-state’s central bank which had unexpectedly eased its exchange-rate based monetary policy earlier in April, citing a slump in first-quarter growth. Activity in local factories in March also shrank for a ninth straight month in March, Reuters reported.