Tue, Jan 05, 2016 - Page 15 News List

Singapore economy slows amid Asian export slump

OIL EXPLORATION:Slowing demand for oil drilling rigs has hit the Singaporean manufacturing sector, as it is the largest jack-up rig builder, controlling 70% of the market

AFP, SINGAPORE

Figurines to mark the lunar Year of the Monkey are displayed over a street in Singapore yesterday. Singapore’s trade-dependent economy grew by an estimated 2.1 percent last year, its worst performance since the 2009 recession, as global demand for Asian exports slumped.

Photo: AFP

Singapore’s trade-dependent economy grew by an estimated 2.1 percent last year, its worst performance since the 2009 recession, as international demand for Asian exports slumped, official data showed yesterday.

The GDP expansion figure, down from 2.9 percent in 2014, was based on advance estimates that GDP in the fourth quarter of last year rose 2.0 percent year-on-year.

Last year’s growth estimate was in line with the government’s latest revised forecast for GDP to expand “close to 2.0 percent.”

Singapore’s GDP contracted by 0.6 percent in 2009 during the global financial crisis, but rebounded the following year with exceptional growth of 15.2 percent.

The Ministry of Trade and Industry has projected GDP growth of between 1.0 and 3.0 percent this year.

Singapore’s manufacturing sector, which makes up about a fifth of the economy, contracted 6.0 percent in last month’s quarter, marking its fourth consecutive quarterly decline.

Last year, manufacturing sank 4.8 percent, the ministry said, due to weak demand for key exports like semiconductors and precision engineering products.

Demand for oil drilling rigs has also been dented as exploration activities dwindled due to the prolonged slump in crude prices.

Singapore is the largest manufacturer of jack-up rigs, accounting for 70 percent of the world market.

Construction and services cushioned the impact of the weak manufacturing sector last year.

Construction expanded 7.0 percent and services climbed 6.5 percent year-on-year in the fourth quarter, but manufacturing remains a drag.

“Singapore’s manufacturing sector is still mired in recessionary conditions, reflecting moderating Chinese growth, the broader regional slump in East Asian exports and transmission effects to the industrial supply chain,” IHS Global Insight Asia-Pacific chief economist Rajiv Biswas said.

Research house Capital Economics also expressed doubt that Singapore’s domestically oriented construction sector can sustain its growth in the face of rising interest rates as the US Federal Reserve continues to tighten monetary policy.

“Higher borrowing costs are likely to further weaken the housing market and dampen construction activity. Rising rates will also crimp consumer spending,” it said.

Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (李顯龍) cautioned against the slowing economy in his New Year’s Day message over the weekend.

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