Nov 19, 2013

    Economy could grow up to 3.7% this year

    The Business Times

    THE Singapore economy could expand by up to 3.7 per cent this year, according to findings from the latest Business Times-UniSIM Business Climate Survey - higher than the Government's official 2.5-3.5 per cent forecast, and more than twice the rate of last year's 1.3 per cent growth.

    In fact, the Republic could potentially see even faster growth next year, as Singapore is now the country most cited by firms to have the best business prospects going forward - a position held by China for six straight years until it was displaced by Indonesia last year.

    Said survey director Chow Kit Boey: "China is facing several problems after a long period of rapid economic development. Its growth rate is slowing, and there is some uncertainty over policy changes that the new team will be introducing. Indonesia is losing its shine because of many difficulties, such as higher inflation and currency depreciation.

    "Compared to the two countries, Singapore is recovering well from its anaemic performance in the past two years and is thus viewed as holding relatively better prospects."

    Of the 166 firms polled from late September to the middle of last month, 21 per cent named Singapore as the most promising market, 19 per cent chose Indonesia and 15 per cent selected China.

    This contrasts with last year's survey results, where the top spot was held by Indonesia (20 per cent), the second by Malaysia (15 per cent) and the third by China (14 per cent).

    Even though one fifth of respondents believed Singapore to be the most promising market for them, the survey's business-prospect indicator showed that, overall, companies here remain pessimistic about the next six months - albeit to a lesser degree than they had been a quarter ago.

    The business-prospect net balance, which ignores the indifferent to take the difference between the proportion of upbeat and pessimistic firms, was a negative 11 per cent - up just two percentage points from the previous quarter.

    Still, business activities continued to improve in the third quarter this year, even though results from the quarterly survey showed that performance remained in contraction mode.

    Said Ms Chow: "Business activities strengthened across all groups of firms in Q3 2013, signalling an imminent turnaround to an expansion path."