Manufacturers in Singapore Unsure of Prospects for First Half of 2008

U.S. economy is dragging down Singapore's exports

Singapore manufacturers have turned cautious about business prospects in the first half of this year, a government survey released Jan. 31. said, while the world frets over a projected global economic slowdown. Ten percent of companies in the key manufacturing sector expect the general business situation to improve, while eight percent predict a deterioration, the Economic Development Board (EDB) said.

The responses are "weighted" to account for the employment contribution and value added from individual businesses.

This resulted in a net weighted balance of two percent expecting the business environment to improve, a weakening of sentiment from the net balance of seven percent in the same period a year earlier, EDB said. Cautiousness prevailed across almost every manufacturing cluster, including electronics, chemicals, pharmaceuticals and precision engineering, it said. But there was optimism among companies in transport engineering, which covers the manufacture of oil drilling rigs as well as ship conversion and repair. Firms in this cluster expect a "sustained demand for shipyard and conversion services, and a strong backlog of orders for the next six months ending June 2008," EDB said. Singapore makes most of the world's offshore oil drilling rigs.

Transport engineering companies also expect an increased demand for aerospace services as airlines send in their aircraft for maintenance after the peak travel season in December, EDB said.

Faced with a slowing U.S. economy, a key market for Singapore exports, the city-state's trade-reliant economy is expected to grow at a slower pace this year after expanding 7.5% in 2007.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2008

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