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Singapore Manufacturing Sector Upbeat

Singapore's manufacturing sector, the main pillar of the economy, is more upbeat about business conditions in the next six months compared with the March quarter, a government survey showed May 10. A net balance of 13% of manufacturing firms surveyed predicted a "positive situation" compared with 5.0% in the first quarter.

Electronics companies, which manufacture the city-state's main exports such as semiconductors and computer disk drives, were among the most buoyant. Computer peripherals production is also expected to increase with new product launches and a seasonal rise in audio and video products should boost output in the consumer electronics and information and communications segment. The data storage segment, however, is expected to slump as low-end products are phased out. More chemicals manufacturers are also upbeat, while the pharmaceuticals sector, an emerging key component of the economy, expects output in the second quarter to be similar to the first. Ship-building, ship-repair and the manufacture of oil rigs should continue to be robust in the second quarter.

Singapore's March manufacturing output grew 8.3% from a year earlier as stronger electronics production led industry out of an unexpected slump, the government said last week. All sectors except for precision engineering showed gains in output, with pharmeceuticals as well as electronics turning around from big falls in February.

However, price competition from overseas rivals is expected to limit export orders, and global political and economic conditions should impact on the local business environment, the Economic Development Board (EDB) survey said.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2005

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