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SINGAPORE'S non-oil domestic exports (NODX) grew for a fifth straight month in March, posting a 16.5 per cent year-on-year jump due to the increase in both electronic and non-electronic exports.
NODX to the top 10 markets rose in March 2017. The largest contributors to the increase in NODX were China (+45.5 per cent), Taiwan (+32.5 per cent) and Hong Kong (+17.4 per cent).
Here are some economists' comments:
Irvin Seah, economist at DBS:
"The latest set of NODX numbers essentially implies that there could be upside surprise to advance projections for the manufacturing sector (6.6 per cent year-on-year, -6.6 per cent quarter-on-quarter Saar), which would then point to a possible upward revision in the final GDP growth figures.
"True to our long held belief that winter is over and spring has finally arrived for the manufacturing sector, the trend on NODX suggests that the export oriented segment of the economy is on an up-cycle...While the turnaround has been uneven with only certain clusters enjoying the uplift, we expect the positivity to eventually spill over to the rest of the economy. This year is likely to be a better year compared to the past two years."
Weiwen Ng, economist, ASEAN at ANZ Research:
"Noteworthy to me (is) China's 'demand' (not necess final demand) continues to drive the recent export upswing in emerging markets Asia ex- China. This is reflected in today's NODX numbers of Singapore, which is amongst the first economy in the region to report Mar export numbers.''
Selena Ling, Head of Treasury Research & Strategy at OCBC Bank:
"Q1 2017 NODX growth was already a stellar 15.4 per cent year-on-year and given the low base in 2016 (-2.8 per cent year-on-year for full-year last year), there are some upside risks to our full-year NODX growth of 0-2 per cent year-on-year. The official NODX forecast is -1 per cent to +1 per cent by IE Singapore."
Francis Tan, economist at UOB:
"Indeed, past few months of trade pickup looks set to bring Singapore's 2017 NODX to finally expand, after recording 4 previous years of contraction. That said, we are carefully watching the negative impact from the anti-globalisation rhetoric that has been fueling developed markets' sentiments. One country to watch out is still the US. In a paper by the Ministry of Trade and Industry, the US is the 2nd largest source of final demand of the goods produced in Singapore and further trade-protectionistic measures will only hurt the path of our export recovery.
"IE Singapore (the trade agency) had their forecast for NODX to grow 0 to 2 per cent in 2017, while maintaining their forecast for total merchandise trade to expand 4 to 6 per cent, while we maintain our forecast of 2017 NODX growth at 0.7 per cent."