Singapore’s exports declined the most in 14 months last month as manufacturers shipped fewer electronics and pharmaceuticals, hurting economic recovery.
Non-oil domestic exports slid 16.3 percent from a year earlier, after a revised 2.6 percent drop in November, the trade promotion agency said in a statement yesterday.
The drop was the most since October 2011, based on previously reported data.
Exports rose 0.5 percent last year, the worst performance in three years, according to Bloomberg calculations.
The decline in last month’s shipments raises the possibility that the city-state slid into a recession last quarter, in contrast to preliminary data showing otherwise, Bank of America Corp economist Chua Hak Bin (蔡學敏) said.
“The ugly export reading raises the specter of recession once again,” Chua said. “There is a high likelihood that industrial production also contracted sharply in December. These are signs that Singapore’s manufacturing is facing hollowing out pressures, especially given the better trade data seen in Northeast Asia and Malaysia.”
The Singapore dollar was little changed at S$1.2240 against the US dollar as of 8:49am yesterday. It gained more than 6 percent last year and reached a record in October after the central bank said it would maintain a modest and gradual appreciation.
The Singapore dollar’s rise last year may be weighing on the manufacturing industry, economists, including Citigroup Inc’s Kit Wei Zheng (鄭基偉), have said, hurting an economy where total exports are equivalent to more than one-and-a-half times its GDP.
Singapore’s growth last year was the slowest in three years and the government forecasts exports will rise 2 percent to 4 percent this year, restrained by a faltering recovery in global demand. The government predicts economic growth of 1 percent to 3 percent this year.
Singapore’s electronics shipments by companies such as Venture Corp fell 19.1 percent last month from a year earlier, after slipping 16.5 percent the previous month. Non-electronics shipments, which include petrochemicals and pharmaceuticals, slid 14.8 percent last month from the previous year. Petrochemical exports climbed 4.7 percent, while pharmaceutical shipments decreased 11.5 percent.
Singapore’s non-oil exports rose a seasonally adjusted 1.8 percent last month from November, when they dropped a revised 0.4 percent.