Singapore Factory Production Down 12.8%

Biomedical sector down 55.1%

Singapore's industrial sector in May performed worse than expected, raising concerns the economy may miss the government's 4%- 6% annual growth target, economists said June 26.

The Economic Development Board's monthly report showed output from the industrial sector shrank an annual 12.8% last month, pulled down by a hefty 55.1% drop in biomedical output.

"Production in May dropped 12.8% compared to the same month last year, largely due to a contraction in the biomedical manufacturing cluster," said the EDB. The sharp plunge in biomedical output was due mainly to the pharmaceuticals segment which shrank 58.2% because a different batch of ingredients was produced.

Precision engineering also declined last month with output down 4.8% on the year but other sectors fared better. EDB reported increased output in electronics, chemicals and transport engineering. Electronics output gained 3.8% in May. Almost all electronics segments recorded higher production but information and communications, and consumer electronics were exceptions, the EDB said.

Chemicals production was up 2.2% and transport engineering increased 13%, boosted by the robust marine and offshore engineering industries, it said.

Citigroup's Singapore economist Kit Wei Zheng said full-year growth for 2008 was likely to be less than 5% because the May production figures indicated a broad slowdown in the industrial sector."The bottom line is, the broader trend of slowdown in the manufacturing sector is still intact," he said.

Singapore's monthly manufacturing report is widely monitored as the sector accounts for a third of Singapore's gross domestic product worth 243 billion Singapore dollars ( US$179 billion) in 2007.

The city-state's export-reliant economy grew slower than estimated in the year's first quarter, at 6.7%, as demand weakened due to a slowdown in the United States and other key markets, the government has said.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2008

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