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Singapore economy
A trailer leaves the container port at Tanjong Pagar terminal in Singapore on Nov 4, 2020. (AFP/Roslan RAHMAN)

(Updated: )

SINGAPORE: Singapore’s non-oil domestic exports (NODX) grew at a faster pace of 12.1 per cent in March from a year ago, up from the 4.2 per cent growth in February.

Export growth far exceeded forecasts in a Reuters poll for a 1 per cent rise.

Growth in March was mainly due to non-electronics, which rose by 9.4 per cent year-on-year, according to official data released by Enterprise Singapore (ESG) on Friday (Apr 16).

This increase was driven by petrochemicals (51.4 per cent) in March, after declining amid a global downcycle in 2019. It was followed by an increase in specialised machinery (35.1 per cent), which was in line with robust global semiconductor demand, said ESG.

Pharmaceutical exports, which are typically volatile, rose by 25.5 per cent in March, after a decline in February.

In the electronics sector, NODX expanded by 24.4 per cent last month from its low base a year ago, and up from the 7.3 per cent growth in February. The growth was mainly due to the increase in exports of integrated circuits, amid strong global semiconductor demand and media reports of chip shortages.

On a month-on-month seasonally adjusted basis, Singapore’s NODX rose 1.2 per cent last month to reach S$16.9 billion, higher than February’s S$16.7 billion. Economists had forecast a 1.3 per cent drop. 


Exports to Singapore’s top markets mostly rose in March, although exports to Thailand, the US, Japan and Hong Kong declined. The largest contributors to NODX growth were China, the EU and Malaysia.

Exports to China expanded by 46.4 per cent in March, up from the 17.3 per cent increase in the previous month. This was mainly due to specialised machinery, petrochemicals and primary chemicals.

Shipments to the EU 27 states grew by 31.6 per cent in March after the previous month’s 34.7 per cent decline. This was driven by shipments in pharmaceuticals, specialised machinery and telecommunications equipment.

NODX to Malaysia rose by 47 per cent in March, after a 7.8 per cent decrease in the preceding month.

Exports to emerging markets expanded by 67.9 per cent in March, following the 45.6 per cent growth in the previous month.

Total trade rose by 19.6 per cent in March on a year-on-year basis, reversing the 3.3 per cent decline in the preceding month. Total exports rose by 21 per cent, while imports grew by 17.9 per cent.