SINGAPORE SAYS TRADE GREW BY 5.4 PERCENT LAST YEAR

SINGAPORE SAYS TRADE GREW BY 5.4 PERCENT LAST YEAR

Singapore's trade grew by 5.4 percent last year to reach a record US$133.33 billion (S$216 billion), but the rate of growth was slower for this tiny Southeast Asian nation, which is highly reliant on trade.

Singapore's 1991 5.4 percent growth rate compares with an 11.4 percent growth in 1990.The country reported in an annual survey released by the Trade Development Board that imports rose by 4.0 percent to $S 114 billion while exports grew by 7 percent to S$102 billion.

One other area of potential concern for the republic is the behavior of non-oil domestic exports. These declined 2 percent during the last quarter of 1991, the first decline since Singapore suffered through a sharp recession in the mid-1980s.

Approximately 60 percent of Singapore's non-oil domestic exports are products like office machinery, telecommunications equipment, electrical

machinery, generators, transport equipment, garments and chemicals.

This slower growth was attributed to weak economies in Singapore's major European and North American markets.

Singapore's largest trading partner remained the United States. Two-way trade in 1991 was S$38.1 billion. The next most important was Japan at S$33.2 billion, followed by Malaysia with S$32.6 billion.

For December, the last month in the survey, trade continued to slow down. Trade by volume grew by 0.3 percent compared to 6.6 percent in November. Export growth in December slowed to 2.3 percent while imports declined by 1.5 percent.

Among the factors behind the December slowdown, the government said, were lower sales of disk drives and computer parts. Singapore has also felt the impact of lower oil prices.