Singapore’s GDP grew 3.5% in 2017, says Lee

SINGAPORE • Singapore’s economy expanded 3.5% this year, more than double the initial government forecast as the country benefitted from the global economic upswing, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (picture) said in his New Year message on Sunday.

Lee said the city-state would press on with economic restructuring and infrastructure projects such as its fifth airport terminal, as well as review healthcare policies to prepare for an ageing population.

“All these are essential investments in our future. They require time and resources, and will stretch way beyond this term of government. We have to plan well ahead for them,” Lee said in a statement released by his office.

Singapore’s 2017 growth comes at the top-end of the most recent trade ministry prediction of 3% to 3.5% and compares to the median 3.3% forecast in a Bloomberg survey.

The government is due to release preliminary gross domestic product (GDP) figures for the fourth quarter today, with a Bloomberg survey of economists predicting annualised growth of 1.6% from the previous three months.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore forecast growth of 1.5% to 3.5% in 2018.

DBS Bank Ltd economist Irvin Seah expects growth to moderate to 3% in 2018, but adds that this shouldn’t be seen as “a negative thing” as it shows Singapore’s economy “shifting from a recovery to a normalised profile”.

Prime Minister Lee also said Singapore’s external environment would remain uncertain in 2018, citing tensions on the Korean Peninsula as well as terrorism and a US foreign policy approach that remains “yet to be fully articulated”.

“We hope to keep relations with our immediate neighbours steady as they gear up for elections — Malaysia this year, and Indonesia the next,” Lee said. — Bloomberg