Singapore factory output growth slows to 16.3% in July, with dip in chip production

SINGAPORE – Singapore’s factory output continued to expand in July, though at a slower rate, thanks to the strong performance by the volatile pharmaceuticals sector, data out on Thursday (Aug 26) showed. 

Manufacturing output rose 16.3 per cent year on year, marking the ninth straight month of growth. However, growth eased from the revised 28 per cent expansion seen in June. 

Excluding biomedical manufacturing, output increased by a smaller 5.8 per cent.

On a seasonally adjusted month-on-month basis, manufacturing output dipped 2.6 per cent. 

The key electronic sector saw only a marginal 1.5 per cent year-on-year rise in output, from the high production base in 2020, the Economic Development Board (EDB) said.

Semiconductors saw production dip by 0.4 per cent, though all other segments recorded output growth. 

Biomedical manufacturing output, on the other hand, surged 86.6 per cent, as pharmaceuticals output jumped 134.9 per cent, on the back of a different mix of active pharmaceutical ingredients and higher output of biological products.

The medical technology segment expanded 17.4 per cent with higher export demand for medical devices. 

Overall, the biomedical manufacturing cluster grew 12.1 per cent year on year from January to July this year. 

The transport engineering sector also posted growth, with output expanding 33.1 per cent. The marine and offshore engineering segment rose 52.6 per cent from a low base last year due to movement restrictions at foreign worker dormitories which adversely affected production, EDB said.

The aerospace segment also grew, by 22.8 per cent from a low base of maintenance, repair and overhaul activities last year due to international travel restrictions amid the Covid-19 pandemic, it added.

Meanwhile, output from precision engineering expanded 20.3 per cent. The machinery and systems segment grew 26.8 per cent with higher production of semiconductor equipment to cater to the strong capital investment in the global semiconductor industry, EDB said.

The precision modules and components segment rose 9.2 per cent, on account of higher production of metal and plastic precision components, as well as dies, moulds, tools, jigs and fixtures, it said.

General manufacturing output also increased, by 11 per cent. The miscellaneous industries segment grew 57.2 per cent from a low base last year, when demand and production of construction-related materials were adversely affected by Covid-19, EDB noted.

But the food, beverage and tobacco and printing segments fell in output, as there was lower production of dairy products and milk powder due to weaker export demand.

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The chemicals sector saw output drop by 5.6 per cent. The petroleum segment grew 28.5 per cent from the low production base a year ago due to weaker export demand amid the Covid-19 outbreak. The petrochemicals segment also saw moderated growth of 6 per cent following double-digit expansion in the past few months due in part to turnarounds in some plants, EDB said.

Conversely, the other chemicals segment contracted 3.6 per cent, while specialty chemicals shrank 25 per cent due to plant maintenance shutdowns.

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