Singapore keeps 2pc non-oil export forecast for 2021

16 February, 2021 12:00 AM printer

SINGAPORE: AMID continued uncertainty, Singapore is maintaining its forecast for non-oil domestic export (NODX) growth to slow in 2021, though it has upgraded its forecast for total merchandise trade.

NODX remains expected to grow by 0 to 2 per cent year on year in 2021, Enterprise Singapore (ESG) said in its quarterly review of trade performance on Monday, report agencies.

Total merchandise trade is now projected to grow by 2 to 4 per cent, up from an earlier forecast of 1 to 3 per cent growth, made in November.

“There remains uncertainty in the global economy and recovery could be uneven across economies,” said ESG.

But it added that improved oil prices since the last update a quarter ago “may provide some support for our oil trade in nominal terms and in turn total trade in 2021”.

NODX fell 0.5 per cent year on year in the fourth quarter of 2020, reversing from the third quarter’s 6.5 per cent growth, as a 2.6 per cent rise in electronic domestic exports could not make up for a 1.4 per cent decline in non-electronic NODX.

This took full-year NODX growth to 4.3 per cent, within the official forecast of 4 per cent to 4.5 per cent and recovering from 2019’s 9.2 per cent decline.

On a seasonally adjusted quarter-on-quarter (q-o-q) basis, the fourth quarter decline was deeper at 4.7 per cent, with falls in both electronic and non-electronic NODX, by 3.7 per cent and 4.9 per cent respectively.

NODX to Singapore’s top markets grew in 2020, with the biggest contributors to the increase being the US, up 38.3 per cent; Japan, up 26.1 per cent; and South Korea, up 27.2 per cent.

But of the top 10 markets, NODX fell for four: China, Hong Kong, Indonesia and Malaysia.

Looking towards 2021, ESG noted expectations of an uneven global recovery: “There remains risks and uncertainties in the global economy, with growth forecast for some of Singapore’s key trade partners such as the US and Japan upgraded, while that for China, Asean-5 and the euro area was adjusted downwards.”

Total merchandise trade fell 5.2 per cent in 2020 to S$969 billion, due mainly to a 31 per cent fall in the oil trade amid lower oil prices compared to a year ago. This more than snuffed out the 0.7 per cent rise in non-oil trade.

But this was still a better showing than the official forecast of -7.5 per cent to -7.0 per cent.

Total services trade fell 14.3 per cent to S$497.1 billion, in contrast to 2019’s 5.7 per cent growth.