Singapore woes ring trade alarm bells | 2019-07-22

Singapore woes ring trade alarm bells

22 July, 2019 12:00 AM printer

Singapore woes ring trade alarm bells

: This picture taken on July 18, 2019 shows a container vessel docked at the West Coast container port in Singapore. A plunge in exports and the worst growth rates for a decade have fuelled concerns about the outlook for Singapore's economy, with analysts saying the figures offer a warning that Asia is heading for a slowdown as China-US tensions bite.

SINGAPORE: A plunge in exports and the worst growth rates for a decade have fuelled concerns about the outlook for Singapore’s economy, with analysts saying the figures offer a warning that Asia is heading for a slowdown as China-US tensions bite.

While it may be one of the smallest countries in the world, the export hub is highly sensitive to external shocks and has long been viewed as a barometer of the global demand for goods and services, reports AFP.

The affluent city-state is highly dependent on trade and has traditionally been one of the first places in Asia to be hit during global downturns —with ripples typically spreading out across the region.

The latest signs are not good. In June exports collapsed 17.3 percent from a year earlier, the fastest decline in more than six years, led by a fall in shipments of computer chips.

That followed a shock 3.4 percent quarter-on-quarter contraction in GDP in the second quarter. Year-on-year growth came in at just 0.1 percent, the slowest pace since 2009 during the global financial crisis.

“Singapore is the canary in the coal mine,” Song Seng Wun, a regional economist with CIMB Private Banking, told AFP. “And what it tells us is that it is a tough environment.”

To warn of danger, miners used to bring caged canaries underground with them as the birds would die in the presence of even a small amount of poisonous gas — signalling to workers that they should make a swift exit.

While steadily weakening growth in China is partly to blame for a slowdown in exports, analysts say the trade war between the US and China, the world’s two biggest economies, has dramatically worsened the situation.


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