Manufacturing Output Fell By 8.7% On-Year In April 2015

Output fell 1.9 per cent year-on-year after excluding biomedical manufacturing, according to latest data by the Economic Development Board. 

SINGAPORE: The Republic's manufacturing output declined 8.7 per cent year-on-year in April 2015, according to latest data by the Economic Development Board (EDB) released on Tuesday (May 26).

Excluding biomedical manufacturing, output fell 1.9 per cent on-year. On a seasonally-adjusted month-on-month basis, manufacturing output decreased 5.8 per cent, and excluding biomedical manufacturing, output fell 2.2 per cent month-on-month.

The output for the biomedical manufacturing cluster fell 28.6 per cent year-on-year, with pharmaceuticals output falling 38 per cent due to lower production of active pharmaceutical ingredients and biological products. However, the medical technology segment expanded 28.1 per cent due to robust demand for medical devices and supplies.

Output for the general manufacturing industries cluster dropped 5.1 per cent on-year last month. While the food, beverages and tobacco segment registered a growth of 9 per cent due to the higher production of soft drinks and milk products, this was offset by the miscellaneous industries segment, whose output declined 14.5 per cent, EDB said.

The electronics cluster output grew 1.2 per cent year-on-year. The growth was supported by higher export demand in the other electronics and components, data storage and computer peripherals segments, the report noted.

On the other hand, the precision engineering cluster contracted 2.1 per cent on-year, with the machinery & systems segment and precision modules & components segment registering declines. This was due to lower demand for process control equipment and mechanical engineering work, and lower output in metal precision components and metal stampings respectively, EDB said.

The transport engineering cluster, too, fell 8.7 per cent year-on-year, with the marine and offshore engineering segment falling by 10.5 per cent on the back of lower levels of rig building activities.  

Looking ahead, an economist said he expects manufacturing output to remain sluggish this year. Standard Chartered Singapore's head of ASEAN Economic Research, Mr Edward Lee, said the overall environment remains quite challenging, “in terms of (what) external demand is looking like at the moment”.

He added: “We do have some nice, favourable base effect coming in, at the end of the first and second half of the year. But that is really resting on the base effect. I think we really have to see stronger prints coming from the G3 (world's top three economies), and hopefully, the Chinese economy stabilises.

According to the Economic Development Board (EDB), the on-year performance indices for April 2015 are:

Chemicals: +3.9%
Electronics: +1.2%
Precision engineering: -2.1%
General manufacturing: -5.1%
Transport engineering: -8.7%
Biomedical manufacturing: -28.6%

On a 3-month moving average, manufacturing output fell by 5.9% on-year in April 2015.

Sources: 
"Monthly Manufacturing Performance, April 2015", EDB Press Release, 26 May 2015
"Singapore's manufacturing output down 8.7% year-on-year in April", Channel NewsAsia, 26 May 2015