Singapore non-oil exports jump 17.9% in October for biggest rise in four years

SINGAPORE –  Singapore’s non-oil domestic exports (Nodx) jumped the most in four years, powered by a pick-up in both electronic and non-electronic shipments.

Nodx rose by 17.9 per cent last month – the biggest leap since October 2017 when shipments soared by 20.5 per cent. 

The October increase was also the 11th consecutive year-on-year gain, following a revised 12 per cent increase in September, said Enterprise Singapore (ESG) on Wednesday (Nov 17).

The pace of annual growth was quicker than the 15.1 per cent forecast by economists in a Bloomberg poll.

Ms Selena Ling, head of treasury research and strategy at OCBC Bank, said the four-year high for Nodx suggests that the twin engines of electronics and non-electronics exports are still firing despite a recent economic slowdown across Asia due to a resurgence of Covid-19 and supply chain constraints.

“This is a testament that global demand remains healthy and global supply chain bottlenecks have not impacted Singapore’s trade sector significantly,” she said.

Ms Ling said the Nodx has gained 10.6 per cent year-to-date, which is about twice the growth momentum seen last year during the worst of the Covid-19 pandemic.

On a month-on-month seasonally adjusted basis, Nodx increased by 4.2 per cent last month, after September’s 1 per cent rise, ESG data showed.

The October Nodx acceleration also reversed theslowdown to 2.7 per cent growth in August. 

On a three-month moving average, shipments grew 10.6 per cent year-on-year after slowing down to a 9 per cent increase in September and 10.2 per cent expansion in August. Still the pace was less than the 12.4 per cent gain in July.

Ms Priyanka Kishore, head of India and South East Asia at Oxford Economics, said Singapore’s export momentum has picked up across the board and she expects strong electronics demand to keep the positive momentum intact for the rest of the year.

ESG said Nodx growth over the year was led by non-electronic goods such as non-monetary gold, specialised machinery and petrochemicals.

Non-electronic shipments grew by 18.9 per cent last month, following the 11.4 percent rise in September.

Non-monetary gold shipments surged 223.2 per cent, specialised machinery grew 49.3 per cent and petrochemicals rose 39.1 per cent.

The linchpin electronics sector saw exports expand by 14.9 per cent year on year, extending the 14.1 per cent gain in September.

Shipments of integrated circuits (ICs) rose 22.6 per cent, PCs were up 18.1 per cent, and export of diodes and transistors rose by 19.8 per cent.

Ms Ling said that while the low base from a year ago for non-monetary gold and also petrochemicals did contribute to the October Nodx performance, other export segments like ICs, PCs, and diodes and transistors, as well as specialised machinery remain in healthy demand.

Nodx to the top markets as a whole rose last month, though exports to Thailand, the United States and Hong Kong declined. The largest contributors to the rise in October Nodx were China, Malaysia and Taiwan.

Analysts said the gains in Asian export markets was surprising, given the slowdown in economic growth from China to South-east Asia due to renewed Covid-19 curbs imposed in the last quarter amid the spread of the Delta variant. 

“The expansion in October was led by China, Malaysia and Taiwan which suggests that the regional economic recovery remains intact despite the recent economic growth dent from the Delta resurgence,” Ms Ling said.