Spotlight on Southeast Asia: Bright Spots for Asia’s Trade-Dependent Economies

Economists are saying recent trade data from places like South Korea, Taiwan and Singapore have shown signs of economic stabilization in the region.

Reports from Reuters showed exports from Singapore, often a bellwether for trade in that region, recovered strongly in February, providing an early sign the picture could brighten for Asia’s trade-dependent economies. Singapore’s trade for example is three times the size of its own economy.

Singapore’s non-oil domestic exports surged 30.5% in February from a year earlier, helped by a recovery in electronics and a continued strong performance in pharmaceuticals. Exports had fallen 2.4% year-over-year in January, partly due to the early Chinese New Year holiday. PIERS economist, Mario Moreno recently reported on the more widespread effects of the early Lunar New Year on containerized U.S. imports earlier this month.

Combining the data for the first two months of the year—to strip out distortions caused by the later Chinese New Year—non-oil domestic exports rose nearly 13% from a year ago. Electronics exports leapt 23.3% in February after a fall of 10.9% year-on-year in January. Singapore’s domestic exports of electronics fell 13% last year, hurt by falling demand for semiconductors, but the chip industry is rebounding.

According to PIERS data, U.S. imports from Singapore remain mostly positive and relatively stable, compared to the rest of the world.  With the exception of a large year-over-year spike in January 2011, U.S. imports from Singapore have followed a far less dramatic trajectory than non-U.S. trade.  By contrast Singapore’s total February exports surged 30% Y-o-Y while exports to the U.S. rose a modest 5.3%.

When it comes to predictions about the directionality of the trade and economy, economists say it’s still too early to tell. Like much of the rest of the world, trade could be affected by the euro zone’s growing economic instability. How do you plan to keep track? PIERS solutions provide the support needed to accurately track vital trade intelligence around the world. Contact us today to have a PIERS solutions expert show you more.


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