SINGAPORE: Singapore's non-oil domestic exports (NODX) have declined 16.3 per cent year-on-year in December, its sharpest drop in 14 months.
This is according to the latest figures from International Enterprise (IE) Singapore.
December's NODX also decreased 2.6 percent compared to the previous month but economists said this is no cause for alarm.
They attribute the drastic decline to a 'high base effect' the previous year.
Electronics continues to drag Singapore's export figures down, with PC parts and disk media products leading the declines.
Year-on-year, electronic NODX contracted 19.1 per cent in December 2012, while non-electronic NODX contracted 14.8 per cent.
Singapore's exports to its top 10 key markets dipped in December with the steepest declines seen in shipments to the US (down 27.7 per cent), South Korea (down 26.8 per cent) and Malaysia (down 19.9 per cent).
Singapore's exports also plunged much lower than economists' estimates of about 7.5 per cent.
But analysts noted that on a seasonally adjusted month-on-month basis, the NODX has risen by 1.8 per cent, signalling a silver lining for the Singapore economy.
Irvin Seah, economist at DBS, said: "Judging from that, we may see marginal improvement in industrial production numbers for December compared to November and if we factor that in our GDP calculation, then it actually reinforces the belief that Singapore will narrowly avert a technical recession in the fourth quarter."
The drastic drop of 16.3 per cent can also be explained by a strong base figure the previous year boosted mainly by the maritime sector.
Leon Perera, chief executive officer of Spire Research, said: "Some of them also point to export competitiveness issues, the strong Singapore dollar, the fact that the electronics sector tends to be skewed towards product categories that are not as 'high-growth' so Singapore doesn't benefit from the growth in smartphones and tablets and categories of that nature."
Meanwhile, bullish production figures arriving from China, South Korea and Taiwan are leading analysts to believe Singapore is still likely to achieve the government's full-year growth forecast of one to three per cent this year.
They added that Singapore's tourism and construction sectors have also shown improvements.
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