Singapore factory output marks thin growth; offshore, electronics segments drop

Excluding bio-medical manufacturing sector the manufacturing output dropped 4.3 pecent, data released by the Economic Development Board of Singapore said.

Singapore manufacturing output
A general view of factories at an industrial park in Singapore September 16, 2014. Reuters

Singapore's manufacturing output increased 0.1 percent in September 2019 on year-on-year basis, the Economic Development Board of Singapore (EDB) said on Friday. However, if bio-medical manufacturing sector is excluded, output dropped 4.3 pecent, the board said. On a seasonally adjusted month-on-month basis, manufacturing output increased 3.7 percent in September 2019.

Significantly, the marine and offshore engineering segment, which is one of the mainstays of the island state's economy, dropped 27.3 percent due to lower levels shipbuilding and offshore activities. Electronics, another key sector, also marked a downturn with output falling 9.6 percent year-on-year. Electronics was the sector that recorded the poorest growth rate in September. The sector was pulled down by poor performance in the semiconductors and computer peripherals segments, EDB said.

The new data also showed that biomedical manufacturing expanded 21.9 percent in September while the pharmaceutical segment grew 26.2 percent. The medical technology sector rose 10.8 percent, helped by higher export demand for medical devices.

While the general manufacturing sector dropped 7.4 percent year on year in September, the food, beverages and tobacco segment shrank 10.9 percent due to lower output of milk powder and beverage products, EDB said. Aerospace and land transport sectors expanded 39 percent and 18 percent respectively.

Rising unemployment

The Ministry of Manpower said on Thursday that the unemployment rate in Singapore rose in the third quarter to touch the highest in nearly ten years. Showing a mixed picture, the ministry also said employment growth rose the highest level since 2014.

The number of retrenchments in the third quarter of 2019 stood at 2,900, higher than in the preceding quarter. Most of the rise in retrenchments was witnessed in manufacturing, construction and services over the quarter.

According to the data released by the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) on October 14, the island state's economy expanded 0.1 percent on a year-on-year basis in the third quarter of 2019, narrowly avoiding a slip into a technical recession. One of the reasons for the tepid growth was the continued weakness in the manufacturing sector, which contracted 3.5 percent on a year-on-year basis in the third quarter.

Singapore exports jump in December on back of 40% rise in China shipments
An aerial view of shipping containers stacked at the port of Singapore February 14, 2012. REUTERS/Edgar Su/

It was reported on October 15 that global investors pumped $735 million into financial-technology ventures in Singapore during the three quarters of the year, recording a 69 percent rise over the same period a year earlier. The total value of fintech deals in the nine months ended September 30 jumped 69 percent from the prior-year period to US$735 million from US$435 million, the Accenture report said. The fundraising also exceeded the US$642 million raised in all of 2018.