Singapore’s exports unexpectedly fell in April as manufacturers shipped fewer electronics goods and sales to customers in the US and Hong Kong declined.
Non-oil domestic exports dropped 1.8 percent from a year earlier, after a revised 9.9 percent gain in March, the island’s trade promotion agency said in a statement today. The median estimate of 13 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News was for an increase of 7.9 percent.
Singapore’s exports are forecast by the government to grow in 2011 at about a third of the pace last year, when overseas shipments jumped the most since 2003. The March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Japan has also clouded the outlook for overseas sales for exporters from the Philippines to Thailand.
“Demand weakness as well as supply chain disruption due to the calamity in Japan” likely manifested in the export sales data, Irvin Seah, an economist at DBS Group Holdings Ltd in Singapore, said before the report. “On a broader perspective, the US recovery has not been impressive thus far.”
Electronics shipments by companies including Venture Corp., Singapore’s biggest publicly traded electronics contract manufacturer, dropped 10.4 percent in April from a year earlier, after declining 13.8 percent the previous month.
Non-electronics shipments, which include petrochemicals and pharmaceuticals, increased 2.8 percent. Pharmaceutical shipments added 47.6 percent after advancing 4.4 percent in March.
The performance of Singapore’s pharmaceutical industry is volatile as production swings by companies such as Sanofi- Aventis SA can cause industrial output to fluctuate from month to month. Drug companies sometimes shut plants for cleaning before making different products.
Singapore’s non-oil exports dropped a seasonally adjusted 3.6 percent last month from March, when they fell a revised 3 percent, today’s report showed.-by Shamim Adam