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Economy in Brief

Singapore's Foreign Trade Declines Again
by Louise Curley  September 17, 2012

Singapore's exports of goods and services declined 2.43% in August and imports of goods and services were up 4.06%  with the result that the favorable balance on trade in goods and services declined from S$4.7 in July to S$2.2 billion in August. The economy of the city state of Singapore is highly dependent on trade.  Exports of goods and services are a little more than twice GDP and imports of goods and services are a little less than twice GDP, as can be seen in the first chart. In addition to its expertise in electronics, pharmaceuticals and petrochemicals,  Singapore functions as a major entrepot, that is, some of its neighbors send products, particularly oil, to Singapore which is better equipped than they are for distribution to third parties. Thus a good portion of Singapore's imports are re-exported.  In August, domestic exports declined 0.71% to S$22.3 billion  from S$22.3 billion  in July, but were 11.25% below August 2011. Re-exports declined 2.36% from 18.5 billion S$ in July to 18.1 billion S$ in August.  Re-exports were, however, 1.98% above August, 2011.  Domestic and re-exports are shown in the second chart.

The bright spot in domestic exports was Pharmaceuticals which increased 8.1% to S$2.11billion.in August. Exports. however,  from the more important sector, Electronics, declined 8.1% in August  and was 1.5% below August, 2011.  Petrochemicals  declined somewhat less, 2.9%, and was 1.3% above August 2011.

Because of the importance of foreign trade in the Singapore's economy its recent poor showing is not a good omen.  Another quarterly decline in GDP  after the second quarter decline of 1.1% would put Singapore, technically in  a recession.

Singapore's Trade
SA by Haver (Bil. S$) Aug'12 Jul'12 Aug'11 M/M % Y/Y % 2011 2010 2009
Exports of Goods 40.5 41.5 43.1 -2.43 -6.20 514.6 478.5 390.8
Imports of Goods 38.3 36.7 41.8 4.06 -8.54 459.6 423.3 356.5
Balance 2.2 4.7 1.3 -2.5 0.9 55.0 55.1 34.3
Domestic Exports 22.3 22.5 25.2 -0.71 -11.25 281.6 248.7 200.0
Re-exports 18.1 18.5 17.7 -2.36 1.98 233.5 230.0 191.0
Electronics 4.92 5.25 4.90 -8.11 -1.54 57.5 65.0 51.7
Pharmaceuticals 2.11 1.95 2.18 8.14 -3.20 21.6 18.2 18.5
Petrochemicals 1.08 1.11 1.06 -2.91 1.26 13.0 13.1 9.1
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