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Singapore factory output up 13% in April, biomedical manufacturing doubles: EDB

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Singapore's manufacturing output in April increased for a second consecutive month following a surge in biomedical manufacturing amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, preliminary figures from the Economic Development Board (EDB) on Tuesday showed.

SINGAPORE'S manufacturing output in April increased for a second consecutive month following a surge in biomedical manufacturing amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, preliminary figures from the Economic Development Board (EDB) on Tuesday showed. 

On a year-on-year basis, manufacturing output rose 13 per cent. Excluding biomedical manufacturing, output fell 3.5 per cent due to Covid-19-related measures implemented locally and overseas, with transport engineering and general manufacturing hardest hit.

On a seasonally adjusted month-on-month basis, manufacturing output rose 3.6 per cent, increasing to 4.8 per cent when biomedical manufacturing was excluded.

Output for Singapore's biomedicals cluster surged 100.5 per cent in April, thanks to a growing pharmaceuticals segment; pharmaceuticals soared 141.3 per cent on the back of higher production of active pharmaceutical ingredients and biological products.

Output for the Republic's linchpin electronics cluster rose 0.8 per cent, driven mainly by increases in the semiconductors segment, while the rest of the electronic segments contracted.

Meanwhile, precision engineering output expanded 5.9 per cent, with increases in the machinery and systems segment due to higher production of semiconductor equipment. However, the precision modules and components segment contracted 5.6 per cent as the coronavirus pandemic dampened demand and disrupted operations locally and in key export markets.

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The general manufacturing cluster posted a contraction to the tune of 20.2 per cent as export demand softened and production scaled down due to Singapore's "circuit-breaker" measures. Specifically, the food, beverage and tobacco segment marked an output drop of 14.2 per cent on lower production of beverage concentrates, milk powder and confectionery, while the printing and miscellaneous industries segments fell 26.1 per cent and 27.1 per cent respectively.

Transport engineering output fell 24.1 per cent with contractions seen across all segments, with less work done in offshore projects and lower repair and maintenance activities as airlines grounded aircraft amid the pandemic.

Output from the chemicals cluster also shrank 6.8 per cent, largely due to declines in the petroleum and petrochemicals segments. Output in these two segments was affected by plant maintenance shutdowns, as well as a slowdown in demand arising from lockdowns inkey export markets in a bid to curb the pandemic. 

On Tuesday, Singapore again downgraded its official growth forecast for 2020 to between -7 per cent and -4 per cent as the fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic continued. This is a worse outlook from the -4 per cent to -1 per cent range the Ministry of Trade and Industry posted in a previous estimate.

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