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Quick takes: Challenging year ahead for Singapore exports, economists say

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Singapore's non-oil domestic exports (NODX) declined by 7.2 per cent year-on-year in December 2015 to S$12.85 billion, after the 3.4 per cent decrease in the previous month, due to a contraction in both the electronic and non-electronic segments.

SINGAPORE'S non-oil domestic exports (NODX) declined by 7.2 per cent year-on-year in December 2015 to S$12.85 billion, after the 3.4 per cent decrease in the previous month, due to a contraction in both the electronic and non-electronic segments.

NODX to all of the top 10 NODX markets, except the US, Japan and Hong Kong, contracted in December 2015. The top contributors to the NODX decline in December 2015 were China (-18.7 per cent), South Korea (-25.8 per cent) and Taiwan (-17.1 per cent).

Here are some comments by Weiwen Ng, economist at ANZ Research:

"For Singapore, any positive impetus from the trade channel will be marginal. Still, with the secular shift towards services in both the US and China, Singapore must adapt and leverage on the rising tide of services trade.

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Market voices on:

"Merchandise trade growth will be subdued in 2016 owing to slower extension of global value chain expansion, in addition to the growth moderation that accompanies the rebalancing towards more consumption and services-led growth in China.

"In a global environment, particularly amid declining import intensity in key major trading partners such as the US and China, there is likely to be little boost to trade from Asian currency depreciation to date. Furthermore, the reconfiguration of the regional supply chain - with China embracing vertical integration - could be trade negative.''

Irvin Seah, senior economist at DBS:

"Exporters are indeed undergoing challenging times. Beyond the medium term structural decline, deceleration in China and an uneven recovery in the US are still weighing down on export performance. Moreover, a resilient SGD is another concern. Although the SGD has depreciated against the USD, it has been fair resilient against currencies of its key Asian export markets such as the ringgit and the yuan."

"Plainly, today's set of numbers is another reminder about the harsh environment out there. The implications are that the GDP figures for Q4 2015 could be revised downwards and that the exchange rate policy is still on an easing bias. More importantly, such dire economic conditions will likely persist for the coming months judging from the outlook of the global economy. Brace yourself for a very cold winter."

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