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Singapore’s non-oil exports fell at the fastest rate in more than two years in January as shipments to China slid by a quarter and shipments of electronics declined.

Non-oil exports fell 10.1 per cent year on year in January, according to Enterprise Singapore, recording the steepest fall since October 2016. The reading was worse than the 1.6 per cent fall forecast by economists in a Reuters poll.

Shipments to China fell 25.4 per cent in January compared to a year earlier and pulling back from a 15.4 per cent increase in December. Exports to South Korea and Hong Kong fell 31.4 per cent and 11.7 per cent respectively.

Exports of electronics fell 15.9 per cent in January, slowing further from a 11.2 decline in December.

In month-on-month terms, exports slipped 5.7 per cent.

Robert Carnell, an economist with ING said the decline “will encourage some fiscal offset from the government”, but cautioned this could be a result of a shift earlier for the seasonal low for electronics, which usually falls in February. An 11.8 per cent fall for petrochemicals was also a concern as these products are used in packaging for a raft of goods. He added:

Any bounce in electronics may be short-lived against a much wider downturn in demand, and the government's budget due out later today will likely need to incorporate some offsetting measures to stimulate the domestic economy in the face of mounting external weakness.

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