Singapore exports slump on electronics

By BLOOMBERG

SINGAPORE • Singapore’s electronics exports slumped in March by the most since 2013, an ominous sign that it will take longer for the city-state to shake off a regional demand slowdown from earlier this year.

Electronics shipments dropped 26.7% from a year ago, weighing down overall non-oil domestic exports, which fell 11.7%.

That was far worse than the 2.2% contraction forecast by economists in a Bloomberg survey.

The Chinese economic slowdown, uncertainty over US-China trade talks and disruptions around the Chinese New Year holidays have soured exports numbers this year, especially in trade-reliant economies like Singapore’s. The city-state’s electronics sector has contracted for 15 of the past 16 months after an unexpected surge across the region for much of 2017.

The broad March contraction in exports could imperil economic growth, which slowed to 1.3% in the first quarter from a year ago, according to an advanced estimate from the government.

Economists at Maybank Kim Eng Research Ltd predicted the government will lower its growth forecast range for the full year to 1%-3%, from 1.5%-3.5%, after the exports report.

Weaker Chinese demand also resulted in exports to the US outpacing those to China for the first time in more than seven years.

The figures were released days after a newspaper report that US electronics giant International Business Machines Corp (IBM) is closing its technology park in Singapore.

IBM will move the manufacturing of its mainframe computers to the US and fire hundreds of workers, according to Today. — Bloomberg