Things are looking up for Singapore’s trade sector, with non-oil domestic exports (NODX) expanding in August 2020 for the third consecutive month.

Official figures released by trade agency Enterprise Singapore (ESG) on September 17 indicated a 7.7% year-on-year expansion in June, widening from the 5.9% growth logged in July.

August’s showing is ahead of the 3.3% expansion forecast by private-sector analysts in a Bloomberg poll.

Specifically, the increase was heralded by an 8.3% year-on-year surge in non-electronic shipments – a substantial increase from the 6.9% growth registered in July. This was fueled by higher exports of non-monetary gold (+55.1%) “amid media reports of increased demand for physical gold as a safe-haven asset in the global economic uncertainty and the Covid-19 [pandemic],” ESG states.

A further lift to the segment came from specialised machinery (+25.7%) and food preparations (+18.9%), due to a low base a year ago. The change came on a steep decline the year before, during the global down-cycle in the electronics sector, ESG states.

Similarly, the linchpin electronics sector widened its expansion by 5.7% in August, from the 2.8% increase seen in the previous month. The improved performance follows higher exports of ICs, disk media products and PCs by 7.1%, 11.8% and 15.2% respectively.

On a month-on-month seasonally adjusted basis, NODX expanded by 10.5% in August, a significant surge from the 1.2% growth registered in July. This follows growth in both electronic and non-electronic domestic exports, ESG observes.

This translated to $15.6 billion in takings for August’s NODX, up from the previous month’s $14.1 billion.

Singapore’s NODX to its top 10 markets grew “as a whole” in August, with exports to the EU27 (+30.2%), China (+24.5%) and the US (+14.1%) leading the way.

Interestingly, the increase in shipments to the EU27, comes after an 8.8% contraction in July. August’s improved performance is a result of higher exports of non-monetary gold, specialised machinery (+109.4%) and pharmaceuticals (+7.1%).

Exports to China saw a similar showing in August as it reversed from the 5.4% decrease in the preceding month. This was enabled by stronger exports of specialised machinery (+41.8%), non-monetary gold (+45.6%) and measuring instruments (+94.0%).

Conversely, NODX to the US – while in the green – is a contraction from the previous month’s 98.7% expansion. Still, the boost came from higher shipments of disk media products (+55.6%), food preparations (+58.4%) and ICs (+75.3%).

On the contrary, NODX to Indonesia (-21.9%), Hong Kong (-11.9%), Malaysia (-5.0%) and Thailand (-2.6%) staged declines, possibly due to the ongoing movement control restrictions imposed to curb the spread of Covid-19 infections.

Meanwhile, Singapore’s non-oil re-exports reversed from its 3.1% year-on-year contraction in July to a 0.1% increase in August, thanks to a substantial increase in electronic re-exports. The metric expanded by 12.4%, up from the 11.9% surge registered in July, following higher re-exports of ICs (+7.9%), telecommunications equipment (+21.3%) and parts of PCs (+39.7%).

A stronger performance of NORX was dampened by a 11.4% contraction in non-electronic products. Albeit a narrower contraction from July’s 16.3%, the poorer performance declines in the NORX of aircraft parts (-45.5%), piston engines (-69.8%) and structures of ships & boats (-98.8%).

On a seasonally adjusted month-on-month basis, NORX expanded by 10.0% in August, reversing from the previous month’s 2.1% decline. This equates to $23.9 billion in takings for August’s NORX, up from $21.7 billion in July.

In this time, NORX to the top 10 markets increased, with the top contributors being the EU 27 (+20.2%), the US (+12.5%) and South Korea (+20.4%).