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Singapore's exports plummet

SINGAPORE'S non-oil exports plunged in April, an ominous sign that suggests a severe recession in Asia's export-dependent economies may extend into the second quarter.

Exports in April fell 19 percent from a year earlier to S$11.3 billion (US$7.7 billion) following a 17 percent drop in March, according to Trade and Industry Ministry figures released yesterday. Exports dropped a seasonally adjusted 1.3 percent in April from the previous month, the ministry said.

As an open economy that relies on trade, finance and tourism, Singapore has taken the brunt of a collapse in demand from the United States and Europe in the past six months. The tiny city-state, with a population of about 5 million, has less domestic demand to fall back on than fellow regional exporters such as China, South Korea, and Japan.

Singapore's economy has contracted each of the past four quarters compared with the preceding quarters, including an annualized 19.7 percent in the first quarter. The government expects the economy to shrink 9 percent this year.

Non-oil exports, about 60 percent of grass domestic product last year, fell 26 percent in the first quarter from a year earlier.

Exports have fallen for 12 straight months, and were led down by electronic products - which decreased 26 percent from a year earlier in April - and a 39 percent drop in petrochemicals. Pharmaceuticals jumped 42 percent.

The country's exports to Europe in April fell 33 percent while sales to the US dove 35 percent.


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