Electronics slowdown hurts S’pore exports

Sara Webb and Amit Prakash
Bloomberg News
20 June 2005

Singapore’s exports fell in May as companies shipped fewer computer chips and pharmaceuticals to the United States and Europe.

Non-oil domestic exports fell a seasonally adjusted 5.3 percent from April, when they gained 4.6 percent, International Enterprise Singapore, the trade promotion body, said in a report Friday.

Export growth has slowed in Asian economies including Taiwan, South Korea and Malaysia as U.S. and European consumers temper spending on computers, flat-panel displays and mobile phones. Singapore is counting on a revival in shipments from companies such as Chartered Semiconductor Manufacturing and Pfizer to help Singapore’s economy rebound from a 5.5 percent contraction in the first quarter.

“Singapore’s numbers are in line with what we are seeing around the region when it comes to electronics,” said Song Seng Wun, an economist at G.K. Goh Holdings in Singapore. “The recovery in electronics continues to be quite slow.”

From a year earlier, Singapore’s non-oil exports fell 5.6 percent, the first decline in 35 months, Friday’s trade report said. Taiwan’s exports grew 4 percent in May from a year earlier, the slowest pace in two years. South Korea’s exports, which make up about two-fifths of the economy, grew by 11.8 percent in May from a year earlier. Malaysia’s exports grew 9.4 percent in April from a year earlier, their slowest pace in 17 months.

“China is really eating their lunch,” said Tim Condon, an economist at ING Bank in Singapore, before the release of the report.

The Singapore government expects economic growth this year to slow to between 2.5 percent and 4.5 percent from last year’s pace of 8.4 percent.

Competition from Chinese manufacturers has prompted Singapore to develop newer industries such as pharmaceuticals and biosciences, wooing international companies with infrastructure and tax concessions.

Singapore’s exports of electronics products fell to 5.08 billion Singapore dollars, or $3.04 million, in May from 5.6 billion dollars in April.

Electronics exports fell 4.5 percent in May from a year earlier, reversing a 5.6 percent increase in April. Semiconductor shipments fell almost 22 percent from a year earlier, after declining 7.8 percent in April. Disk-drive exports rose for a third month, gaining almost 19 percent from a year earlier.

Pharmaceutical shipments fell 23 percent from a year earlier to 1.01 billion dollars in May. Drug exports declined from 1.14 billion dollars in April.

Exports to the European Union fell 16 percent in May from a year earlier and shipments to the United States fell 17 percent. Exports to China surged 25 percent from a year earlier.

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