Demand for Singapore’s pharma output surges during pandemic – dpa international


Masks and sanitisers for sale in Kuala Lumpur (Simon Roughneen)

Masks and sanitisers for sale in Kuala Lumpur (Simon Roughneen)

KUALA LUMPUR — A huge jump in sales of pharmaceuticals saw Singapore’s exports expand by 9.7 per cent year on year in April amid the coronavirus pandemic, though overall trade declined.

Enterprise Singapore, a government agency, announced on Monday that exports of pharmaceuticals to the European Union and Japan rose by 467 per cent and 864 per cent respectively compared to the same period a year ago.

Dutch bank ING attributed Singapore’s April exports surge to the new coronavirus, saying on Monday that “the global pandemic has lifted pharmaceuticals to be the star-performer.”

April was the third consecutive month in which Singapore’s exports grew. However most sectors – including electronics, which typically makes up around 30 per cent of exports – saw declines.

The International Monetary Fund has warned that the world economy could shrink by 3 per cent in 2020 due a pandemic which has seen a reported 4.7 million people infected with Covid-19, the disease caused by the new virus, and 315,000 related deaths.

Small and trade-dependent economies such as Singapore’s are vulnerable to collapsing demand in major markets such as China, Europe and the United States, with Singapore’s government saying that its economy could contract by up 4 per cent in 2020.

Other estimates suggest a steeper fall is possible, with Deutsche Bank warning of an 11.2-per-cent decline.

Singapore’s economy has been in lockdown since April 7 due to the spread of Covid-19, mostly among migrant workers.

Ministry of Health data updated on Sunday showed over 28,000 infections, the second most of any East or South-East Asian country after China.

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