Singapore non-oil exports see slower 6% growth in July

SINGAPORE – Singapore’s non-oil domestic exports (Nodx) grew at a single-digit pace in July after June’s double-digit growth, with shipments driven mainly by non-electronic goods such as non-monetary gold, specialised machinery and pharmaceuticals.

Nodx rose 6 per cent year on year last month after a revised 13.9 per cent expansion in June, Enterprise Singapore (ESG) said on Monday (Aug 17). The gain in July was higher than the 4.4 per cent jump predicted by economists in a Bloomberg survey.

On a month-on-month seasonally adjusted basis, Nodx rose 1.2 per cent in July, after the previous month’s 1.4 per cent decline. The growth in non-electronic domestic exports outweighed the decline in electronics.

Nodx growth slowed down on a three-month moving average year on year basis as well. The increase averaged 4.6 per cent in July compared to the 5.9 per cent gain in June.

On a year-on-year basis, non-electronic Nodx increased by 6.9 per cent last month, following the 11.7 per cent expansion in the previous month. Contributing the most to July export gains, non-monetary gold shipments surged 227.9 per cent, specialised machinery rose 60.1 per cent and pharmaceuticals were up 15.5 per cent.

The July gain in non-monetary gold shipments was aided by a low base in July 2019 when exports declined 3.1 per cent. But there was also a jump in demand this year for physical gold as a safe-haven asset amid global economic uncertainty and the caronavirus pandemic.

Specialised machinery exports fell by 31 per cent in July 2019. The typically volatile pharmaceutical exports were also down 33 per cent in July 2019.

Electronic Nodx grew by 2.8 per cent in July, less than the low-base driven expansion of 22.2 per cent in June. Disk media products, telecommunications equipment and Integrated circuit shipments increased by 23, 18.2 and 1.5 per cent respectively.

But there was also a jump in demand this year for physical gold as a safe-haven asset amid global economic uncertainty and the caronavirus pandemic.

Nodx to the top markets as a whole grew in July, though exports to Indonesia, Thailand, Hong Kong, China and the EU 27 declined.

The markets that accounted for most of the growth in Nodx were led by the United States (+98.7 per cent), South Korea (+56.3 per cent) and Taiwan (+18.7 per cent).

The Government last week raised Singapore’s 2020 trade forecasts with non-oil domestic exports (Nodx) now predicted to grow by 3 to 5 per cent year on year, compared with an earlier forecast for a 1 to 4 per cent fall.

Total merchandise trade, meanwhile, is tipped to shrink at a slower pace of 8 to 10 per cent, from the 9 to 12 per cent slump seen in May.

Trade promotion agency Enterprise Singapore (ESG) said on Tuesday (Aug 11) its upgraded forecasts came amid the better-than-expected performance for specific products, such as non-monetary gold, pharmaceuticals and electronics.

But it cautioned that the global economic outlook remains uncertain, though global trade is unlikely to reach the worst-case scenario earlier projected by the World Trade Organization.

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