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flag Singapore Singapore: Economic and Political Outline

In this page: Economic Indicators | Foreign Trade in Figures | Sources of General Economic Information | Political Outline

 

Economic Indicators

The Singapore economy is characterized by its extreme financialization and high degree of openness, and thus its dependence on international trade. After contracting greatly in 2009 (-0.8%), growth reached the exceptional degree of 14.5 % of the GDP in the following year, boosted by the regional recovery, strong growth in exports and a strong recovery in domestic demand.

Due to supply disruption caused by the Japanese earthquake and the decline in global demand later that year, economic growth in Singapore again deteriorated in 2011-12. It reached 3.5% in 2013, sustained by the manufacturing industry and the recovery in Asian trade. For 2014, the growth is expected to reach around 2-4%.

Singapore's economy is sound: the current account surplus is large and the country has significant foreign exchange reserves with a zero external debt. The country also benefits from a large margin to increase spending on social services and help for local businesses. The government's priority is to ensure quality growth and build a more inclusive society. The 2014-2015 budget emphasizes social spending, with special attention being given to the elderly workers. It contains measures to support SMEs; measures to help the most economically vulnerable who are facing high living costs; measures to facilitate access to healthcare; measures to increase productivity of Singaporean workers and decrese the country's dependency on foreign workforce; and increased taxes on tobacco and alcohol. After a budget surplus of 1.1% of the GDP in 2013/2014, the country should have adeficit of 0.3% of the GDP in 2014-2015. To maintain its competitive position despite rising wages, the government seeks to promote activities with higher added value (such as biotechnology, research and development and pharmaceuticals) in manufacturing and services.

The level of per capita wealth in Singapore is amongst the highest in the region. After a long period of full employment, unemployment has appeared, especially due to structural economic chances (outsourcing of low-skilled work) and worsened during the global economic crisis. However, it has since decreased and now remains at around 2.1% of the active population. Singapore must also deal with rising levels of income inequality and social discontent caused by overpopulation and high level of competition for employment and housing, which are seen to be caused by immigration.

 
Main Indicators 20112012201320142015 (e)
GDP (billions USD) 274.07286.91297.94e307.08e320.25
GDP (Constant Prices, Annual % Change) 6.12.53.9e3.03.0
GDP per Capita (USD) 52,87154,00755e56,11358,146
General Government Balance (in % of GDP) 8.27.7e5.5e4.24.1
General Government Gross Debt (in % of GDP) 101.8106.6103.5e103.1e101.0
Inflation Rate (%) 5.24.62.41.4e2.5
Unemployment Rate (% of the Labor Force) 2.02.01.92.02.1
Current Account (billions USD) 62.5950.1554.5653.99e53.28
Current Account (in % of GDP) 22.817.518.317.6e16.6

Source: IMF - World Economic Outlook Database , Last Available Data

Note: (e) Estimated Data

Main Sectors of Industry

Singapore's economy is highly industrialized. The biggest sector is the manufacturing sector, followed by the wholesale and retail sector, business services, transport and communication and financial services. The electronics and petrochemical industries are dominant. The services sector contributes almost three quarters of the GDP and employs over three quarters of the active population. The industrial sector represents a quarter of the GDP. The primary sector is almost nonexistent (except for the cultivation of orchids, vegetables and fish for aquariums). Singapore does not have any mineral resources.

Singapore is a regional trading hub. The Port of Singapore is amongst the world's biggest and is the second traffic center for container transshipment, behind Hong Kong.

 
Breakdown of Economic Activity By Sector Agriculture Industry Services
Employment By Sector (in % of Total Employment) 1.1 21.8 77.1
Value Added (in % of GDP) 0.0 25.1 74.9
Value Added (Annual % Change) -2.3 2.5 5.2

Source: World Bank - Last Available Data.

 
 
 
Monetary Indicators 20092010201120122013
Singapore Dollar (SGD) - Average Annual Exchange Rate For 1 USD 1.451.361.261.251.25

Source: World Bank - Last Available Data.

 
 

Learn more about Market Analyses about Singapore on Globaltrade.net, the Directory for International Trade Service Providers.

Indicator of Economic Freedom

Definition:

The Economic freedom index measure ten components of economic freedom, grouped into four broad categories or pillars of economic freedom: Rule of Law (property rights, freedom from corruption); Limited Government (fiscal freedom, government spending); Regulatory Efficiency (business freedom, labor freedom, monetary freedom); and Open Markets (trade freedom, investment freedom, financial freedom). Each of the freedoms within these four broad categories is individually scored on a scale of 0 to 100. A country’s overall economic freedom score is a simple average of its scores on the 10 individual freedoms.

Score:
89.4/100
Position:
Free
World Rank:
2/178
Regional Rank:
2/25

Distribution of Economic freedom in the world
Source: 2014 Index of Economic freedom, Heritage Foundation

 

Business environment ranking

Definition:

The business rankings model measures the quality or attractiveness of the business environment in the 82 countries covered by The Economist Intelligence Unit’s Country Forecast reports. It examines ten separate criteria or categories, covering the political environment, the macroeconomic environment, market opportunities, policy towards free enterprise and competition, policy towards foreign investment, foreign trade and exchange controls, taxes, financing, the labour market and infrastructure.

Score:
8.65
World Rank:
1/82

Source: The Economist - Business Environment Rankings 2014-2018

 

Country Risk

See the country risk analysis provided by Coface.

 

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Foreign Trade in Figures

A real warehouse and crossroads of international trade, Singapore is highly dependent on external trade, which represents more than 400% of the GDP. The strategy adopted by the country is to promote export while being careful to minimize barriers to imports. Singapore has signed the Asian Free Trade Area agreements (AFTA in the ASEAN context) and several bilateral agreements.

Singapore imports machinery and equipment, mineral fuels, chemical products, food commodities and consumption goods from Malaysia, United States, China, Japan, South Korea, Indonesia and Saudi Arabia. The country exports machinery and equipment (electronic), consumption goods, pharmaceutical products and mineral fuels to Malaysia, Indonesia, Hong Kong, China, the United States, Japan and Australia.

Although the volume of trade diminished in 2012, Singapore shows a large trade surplus, a trend which should continue in the coming years.

 
Foreign Trade Indicators 20092010201120122013
Imports of Goods (million USD) 245,785310,791365,770379,723373,016
Exports of Goods (million USD) 269,833351,867409,503408,393410,250
Imports of Services (million USD) 79,11797,546114,525117,744122,321
Exports of Services (million USD) 93,24594,088108,362111,932116,556
Imports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) -10.416.23.23.13.1
Exports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) -7.517.44.61.53.6
Imports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 168.4172.8173.8172.6167.5
Exports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 191.9199.3200.2195.1190.5
Trade Balance (million USD) 47,58062,84069,54563,41667,792
Trade Balance (Including Service) (million USD) 45,27262,45972,37364,35768,568
Foreign Trade (in % of GDP) 360.2372.1374.0367.7358.0

Source: WTO - World Trade Organization ; World Bank , Last Available Data

 

Main Partner Countries

Main Customers
(% of Exports)
2013
Malaysia 12.2%
China 11.8%
Hong Kong 11.2%
Indonesia 9.9%
United States 5.8%
See More Countries 49.2%
Main Suppliers
(% of Imports)
2013
China 11.7%
Malaysia 10.9%
United States 10.4%
South Korea 6.4%
Japan 5.5%
See More Countries 55.0%

Source: Comtrade, Last Available Data

 
 

Main Products

- bn USD of products exported in 2013
Electronic integrated circuits and microassembliesElectronic integrated circuits and microassemblies 20.4%
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous...Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals (excl. crude); preparations containing >= 70% by weight of petroleum oils or of oils obtained from bituminous minerals, these oils being the basic constituents of the preparations, n.e.s.; waste oils containing mainly petroleum or bituminous minerals 16.9%
Automatic data processing machines and units...Automatic data processing machines and units thereof; magnetic or optical readers, machines for transcribing data onto data media in coded form and machines for processing such data, n.e.s. 2.6%
Parts and accessories (other than covers, carrying...Parts and accessories (other than covers, carrying cases and the like) suitable for use solely or principally with machines of heading 8469 to 8472, n.e.s. 1.7%
Diodes, transistors and similar semiconductor...Diodes, transistors and similar semiconductor devices; photosensitive semiconductor devices, incl. photovoltaic cells whether or not assembled in modules or made-up into panels (excl. photovotaic generators); light emitting diodes; mounted piezo-electric crystals; parts thereof 1.7%
See More Products 56.8%
- bn USD of products imported in 2013
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous...Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals (excl. crude); preparations containing >= 70% by weight of petroleum oils or of oils obtained from bituminous minerals, these oils being the basic constituents of the preparations, n.e.s.; waste oils containing mainly petroleum or bituminous minerals 20.0%
Electronic integrated circuits and microassembliesElectronic integrated circuits and microassemblies 16.0%
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous...Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals, crude 9.5%
Turbo-jets, turbo-propellers and other gas...Turbo-jets, turbo-propellers and other gas turbines 2.1%
Automatic data processing machines and units...Automatic data processing machines and units thereof; magnetic or optical readers, machines for transcribing data onto data media in coded form and machines for processing such data, n.e.s. 2.0%
See More Products 50.4%

Source: Comtrade, Last Available Data

 
See More Products
More imports (Intracen Data)
More exports (Intracen Data)
 
 
 

Main Services

Source: Comtrade, Last Available Data

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Sources of General Economic Information

Ministries
Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI)
Ministry of National Development (MND)
Ministry of Manpower (MOM)
Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA)
Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB)
Statistical Office
Department of Statistics
Central Bank
The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS)
Stock Exchange
Stock Exchange of Singapore
Search Engines
Technofind
Yahoo! Singapore
Economic Portals
Economy watch

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Political Outline

Executive Power
President is the chief of the state. The role of the president is largely ceremonial. Following legislative elections, leader of majority party or leader of majority coalition is usually appointed Prime Minister by the President as head of the government. Prime Minister enjoys the all the executive powers which include implementation of the law in the country and running the day-to-day affairs.
Legislative Power
The legislature is unicameral in Singapore. The Parliament consists of 84 seats: 9 members of parliament (MPs) are directly elected from single-member constituencies, and 75 are elected in teams of between four and six to represent the 15 Group Representation Constituencies (GRCs). In addition, there are up to nine nominated members.

Parliament is supreme to all other government. The government is dependent on the support of the parliament, often expressed through a vote of confidence.

Main Political Parties
Though Singapore is a multi-party nation, but practically it has been dominated by one-party which has been in power since its independence. It is PAP (People's Action Party).

Opposition parties are allowed, but are widely considered to have no real chance of gaining power. Some of the important opposition parties are:

- SDA (Singapore Democratic Alliance) – a common opposition alliance to fight PAP
- SDP (Singapore Democratic Party) – a liberal democratic party
- WP (Workers' Party of Singapore) – a party of industrial workers.

For more details, consult the list of the political parties in Singapore.

Current Political Leaders
President: Tony TAN Keng Yam (since 1 September 2011) - PAP
Prime Minister: LEE Hsien Loong (since August 2004) - PAP
Next Election Dates
Presidential: August 2017
Parliamentary: May 2017
 

Indicator of Freedom of the Press

Definition:

The world rankings, published annually, measures the violations of press freedom worldwide. It reflects the degree of freedom enjoyed by journalists, the media and digital citizens of each country and the means used by states to respect and uphold this freedom. Finally, a note and a position are assigned to each country. To compile this index, Reporters Without Borders (RWB) prepared a questionnaire sent to partner organizations,150 RWB correspondents, journalists, researchers, jurists and activists of human rights, including the main criteria - 44 in total - to assess the situation of press freedom in a given country. It includes every kind of direct attacks against journalists and digital citizens (murders, imprisonment, assault, threats, etc.) or against the media (censorship, confiscation, searches and harassment etc.).

World Rank:
150/180
Evolution:
1 place down compared to 2013

Source: Worldwide Press Freedom Index 2014, Reporters Without Borders

 

Indicator of Political Freedom

Definition:

The Indicator of Political Freedom provides an annual evaluation of the state of freedom in a country as experienced by individuals. The survey measures freedom according to two broad categories: political rights and civil liberties. The ratings process is based on a checklist of 10 political rights questions (on Electoral Process, Political Pluralism and Participation, Functioning of Government) and 15 civil liberties questions (on Freedom of Expression, Belief, Associational and Organizational Rights, Rule of Law, Personal Autonomy and Individual Rights). Scores are awarded to each of these questions on a scale of 0 to 4, where a score of 0 represents the smallest degree and 4 the greatest degree of rights or liberties present. The total score awarded to the political rights and civil liberties checklist determines the political rights and civil liberties rating. Each rating of 1 through 7, with 1 representing the highest and 7 the lowest level of freedom, corresponds to a range of total scores.

Ranking:
Partly Free
Political Freedom:
4/7

Map of freedom 2014
Source: Freedom House

 

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Last Updates: November 2014