Jan 24, 2014

    Data errors won't affect advance GDP estimates

    CORRECTIONS to error-skewed trade data for September and October last year will not affect the advance gross domestic product (GDP) estimates released on Jan 3, the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) said yesterday.

    That is because changes to both months' trade figures had been accounted for by Jan 3 and factored into the GDP estimates, even though the errors and revisions were made public only last Friday.

    MTI's comments yesterday came in response to an article in last Saturday's edition of BT, which reported that flawed data collection had skewed trade numbers for September and October last year, with possible implications for Q4 GDP estimates.

    International Enterprise (IE) Singapore said in its monthly trade report for last month, put out last Friday, that it had wrongly reported two months of trade data because of "multiple counting" of trade permits, which arose from changes made to a trade-declaration system used by air-express companies in August last year.

    The system's flaws were fixed by November - for which trade data released last month was accurate, IE Singapore said.

    Last October's non-oil domestic exports (NODX) was said to have grown 2.8 per cent, when it had shrunk 2.7 per cent.

    Data for September was also overstated - NODX was initially said to have shrunk 1.2 per cent when the actual contraction was a larger 2 per cent.

    Some economists BT spoke to raised the possibility that these downward revisions could affect the advanced Q4 GDP estimates, for instance, via the transport and storage-services sector.

    MTI said in an e-mail message yesterday that its advanced estimates - 3.7 per cent growth for the full year and 4.4 per cent year-on-year growth for Q4 2013 - had already taken the trade-data corrections into account.

    Final Q4 and full-year GDP figures will be released next month.

    "There is no change to our GDP growth forecast of between 2 per cent and 4 per cent for this year," MTI added.