S'pore manufacturing beats expectations, records 14.3% growth in December 2020

The growth was buoyed by gains in electronics and biomedical clusters.

Sulaiman Daud | January 27, 2021, 09:37 AM

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The Singapore economy had some good news to report after a tumultuous 2020.

According to a press release from the Economic Development Board (EDB) on Jan. 26, the manufacturing sector recorded an overall growth in output of 7.3 per cent in 2020, as compared to 2019.

Performed better than forecast

Singapore's total manufacturing output increased by 14.3 per cent in December 2020, as compared to December the year before.

If you exclude biomedical manufacturing, that rises to 19.8 per cent, on a year-on-year basis.

This means the actual growth was higher than the 11.5 per cent economists forecasted for December 2020 in a Reuters poll.

And if you were to look at a seasonally adjusted month-on-month basis, manufacturing output increased by 2.4 per cent in December 2020. The figure rises to 8.2 per cent if biomedical manufacturing is excluded.

According to Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing, Singapore maintains a strong manufacturing base to provide the economy with diversity and resilience.

After recording growth of 50 per cent in the past decade, he has set another target of 50 per cent growth by the next decade, according to a Jan. 25 Facebook post, as part of the Manufacturing 2030 vision.

EDB also provided a breakdown of the numbers by clusters.

Transport Engineering

This cluster did not do as well as the others. Output fell by almost one-third (31.5 per cent) in December 2020 as compared to December 2019. Overall, output fell by 25.7 per cent in 2020.

Marine and offshore engineering and the aerospace segments contracted by a whopping 30.8 and 41.8 per cent respectively, a reminder of the huge impact of Covid-19, which led to travel restrictions and a weak oil and gas market.

However, land transport rose by 4.2 per cent.

General manufacturing

Overall, this cluster recorded an output contraction of 11.3 per cent in 2020.

However, there were some signs of recovery, as output in December 2020 expanded 5.9 per cent in a year-on-year basis.

  • The food, beverage & tobacco segment grew 13.6 per cent with higher production of beverage products and milk powder.
  • The printing segment grew by 1.2 per cent.
  • The miscellaneous industries fell 0.3 per cent with the latter registering lower output in construction-related products.


The same results were seen in chemicals. The entire sector recorded a drop of 1 per cent in 2020, as compared to 2019.

But output in December 2020 expanded by 12.3 per cent, as compared to December in 2019

Petrochemicals, specialties and fragrances increased, partly due to plant shutdowns for maintenance one year ago.

The fall in the petroleum segment alone was enough to turn the year into a net negative, however.

Biomedical manufacturing

The opposite story was seen in the biomedical sector.

Year-on-year, output actually fell by 13.2 per cent in December 2020, with pharmaceuticals falling by 22.8 per cent.

However, the medical technology segment grew by 7.3 per cent, with higher export demand for broad-based medical devices.

And overall, the entire sector grew by a honking 23.7 per cent in 2020, as compared to 2019.

Precision engineering and electronics

These two sectors were the top performers, recording growth both from a year-on-year and total year standpoint.

Electronics recorded 11.9 per cent growth in 2020, and grew 41.8 per cent in Dec. 2020 as compared to Dec. 2019.

Precision engineering recorded 10.6 per cent in 2020, and grew 11 per cent in December 2020, as compared to December 2019.

The significant growth is due to expansion in the semiconductor, computer peripherals, data storage, precision modules, and machinery and systems.

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Top image from Chan Chun Sing's Facebook page.