Jun 18, 2013

    S'pore exports weaker than expected

    SINGAPORE'S exports last month saw a bigger drop than economists expected, as manufacturers shipped less electronics after an uneven global recovery hurt demand.

    Non-oil domestic exports slid 4.6 per cent from a year earlier, after falling 1 per cent in April, IE Singapore said in a statement yesterday.

    The World Bank last week cut its global growth forecast for this year after emerging markets from China to Brazil slowed more than projected, weakening prospects for Singapore's trade-dependent economy.

    Analysts have lowered their estimate for the country's export expansion this year to 2.5 per cent from 4 per cent, according to a survey by the Monetary Authority of Singapore this month.

    "The risks Singapore faces are always external," said Mr Leong Wai Ho, a senior regional economist at Barclays in Singapore. "The external outlook is still fragile, particularly when we're not well tapped into the smartphone boom that's going on in North Asia."

    The Singapore dollar has weakened almost 3 per cent in the past six months, even as the central bank maintained a policy of allowing gradual gains in the currency.

    The depreciation probably won't help exports, said economist Song Seng Wun at CIMB Research.

    "As far as Singapore's manufactured goods are concerned, it's more about end demand than the exchange rate," he said, adding that "if there's no demand, no matter how much gain you get from the currency depreciation, it hardly makes a difference in terms of whether the Singapore dollar is stronger or weaker" in the short or medium term.