Singapore’s non-oil domestic exports (NODX) rebounded by 6.8 percent year-on-year in December, mainly due to a rise in shipments of non-electronic products such as specialized machinery and non-monetary gold. Electronics also grew from a low base a year ago.
This is the first positive print for NODX in three months and comes after a 5 percent drop in November, official data from Enterprise Singapore showed on Monday.
Economists had expected a 0.3 percent increase, Reuters reported.
On a seasonally adjusted month-on-month basis, exports rose by 6.6 percent in December, extending the previous month’s 3.7 percent increase.
“December’s expansion of NODX does paint an optimistic backdrop for 2021,” said UOB economist Barnabas Gan.
“Singapore’s position in producing and supplying biomedical products and supplies especially during this COVID-19 pandemic will likely continue to lift overall manufacturing activities and support NODX into next year,” he added.
Increase in non-electronic exports
December’s rebound was boosted by a 5 percent year-on-year increase in the shipment of non-electronic goods. This compares with the 5.3 percent decline for the segment in November.
Specialized machinery, which rose 30.9 percent, was a major contributor to the increase, followed by non-monetary gold (14.5 percent) and measuring instruments (21.4 percent).
In the electronics segment, shipments rose 13.7 percent year-on-year due to a low base in December 2019. This follows the 4 percent decline in November.
Integrated circuits, personal computer parts and diodes, and transistors contributed the most to December’s shipments, rising by 15.7 percent, 33.8 percent, and 16.5 percent respectively.
Shipments by country breakdown
Exports to Singapore’s top markets mostly rose in December, although exports to China, the European Union, Indonesia, and Japan declined.
“The country breakdown of Singapore’s December exports makes curious reading,” said Mr. Robert Carnell, ING’s regional head of research for Asia-Pacific.
He noted that China, “despite its comparative global strength”, was one of the weakest destinations, registering a 27.5 percent year-on-year decline.
On the other hand, the US, reeling under COVID-19, registered a 52.5 percent increase in shipments from Singapore following November’s 9.5 percent growth. December’s growth was led by non-monetary gold, pharmaceuticals, and measuring instruments.
“We probably need to see another month or two of this data to make sense of this directional curiosity,” said Mr. Carnell.
The exports to South Korea grew by 46.2 percent in December after the 9.7 percent decrease in November, mainly due to specialized machinery, measuring instruments, and heating and cooling equipment.
Exports to Taiwan rose by 14.8 percent in December, following the 8.7 percent increase in the preceding month, due to integrated circuits, other specialty chemicals, and structures of ships and boats.
Exports to emerging markets expanded by 28.3 percent in December, after the 4 percent decline in the previous month.
South Asia (47.5 percent); Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam (40.8 percent); and Latin America (21.5 percent) were the markets primarily responsible for this growth.
Total trade fell by 0.3 percent in December on a year-on-year basis, following the 7.3 percent decrease in the month before. This was mainly due to the oil trade, which continued to decrease amid lower oil prices as compared to a year ago, though easing from the contraction in November.
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