SINGAPORE JUMPS ON SERVICE SECTOR BANDWAGON

SINGAPORE JUMPS ON SERVICE SECTOR BANDWAGON

Along with Hong Kong and Japan, Singapore will see the service sector expand at the expense of manufacturing, enhancing further the position of all three as regional financial and trading centers.

Perhaps more significant, Asia's newly industrialized economies "will continue to diversify away from dependence on the American market and will trade more with countries in the region," the annual study done by the U.S. Embassy here forecasts.The newly industrialized economies are expected to expand investments beyond Southeast Asia and Southern China into other regions such as Vietnam and South Korea.

A report by Japan's Nomura Research Institute sees steady expansion in the world economy as the most likely scenario. This will increase Asia's exports and foreign investments in the region, promoting structural adjustments and boosting medium-term growth.

"Under these conditions, the Asia-Pacific region will remain the most dynamic part of the world economy, and its new frontiers will expand further into Asia's socialist countries," Nomura believes.

As a result of slowdowns in both imports and exports, the growth of Singapore's total trade moderated, to 5.6 percent in 1992 from 9.8 percent the previous year. In value terms, trade growth was a low 2.2 percent ahead at S$221 billion (US$147 billion) against 5.4 percent expansion in 1991.

Import volume was up 5.8 percent in 1992 against 8.8 percent a year earlier. Export volume gained only 5.4 percent, compared with 1991's 11 percent surge,

mainly reflecting slower re-export growth and a drop in domestic oil imports.

Non-oil domestic exports rose 8.4 percent, to S$52.9 billion compared with the year-earlier's 7.7 percent.

Entrepot trade grew 21.4 percent, but domestic trade growth slowed to 4.4 percent. Re-exports grew 3.3 percent, to S$37 billion in 1992, only a third of the previous year's 10 percent growth.

Restructuring of the computer disk drive industry toward higher-capacity units helped domestic exports expand 29 percent, to S$9 billion after a 2.3 percent fall in 1991.

Beyond disk drives, there was higher growth in some other electronic and computer components, such as integrated circuits, computer parts and peripherals, as well as in color TV picture tubes and parts for videocassette recorders.

Sales of computer tapes and diskettes, computer monitors, printers, video recorders, radios, and radio-telephonic and radio-telegraphic receivers also rose.

Re-exports of desktop computers, printers, video recorders, radios, telephones and cars also rose alongside cigarettes, cocoa beans and aircraft engines. Against that, slower sales of parts for color TVs, radios, computers, watches, brandy and rubber contributed to the lower growth.

The coming into operation of more oil refineries in Asia led to an oversupply of product on the world market. With South Korean products entering the export market and higher Japanese refining capacity, something had to give.

One thing that did was the value and volume of Singapore's domestic exports of oil. They plunged 22 percent in value last year after a slight rise in 1991. In volume terms, an 11 percent decrease reversed a 12 percent rise in 1991.

The United States, European Community, Malaysia and Hong Kong were the top four export destinations, accounting for 56 percent of all overseas sales in 1992. Japan slipped a rung to fifth due to slower shipments of oil. In non-oil domestic exports, Japan trails the United States, EC and Malaysia.

The United States accounts for 21 percent of total exports. Last year, they rose 8.3 percent, to S$21.8 billion, reversing a 0.7 percent slip in 1991. U.S.-bound re-exports rose 15 percent thanks to better sales of integrated circuits, disk drives, radios, jet engines, telephone sets, apparel, video cameras and toys.

EC-bound exports rose 8.9 percent, to S$15.4 billion from a mere 3.3 percent increase in 1991. That reflected the improving French and Italian economies, offsetting slower growth in Germany, the Netherlands and Britain.

There was a rise in anti-dumping investigations by the European Community against Singapore's exports of electronic products.

Sales of ball bearings, electronic scales, compact disk players and color television sets to the EC were investigated for dumping - selling at below cost or significantly below the price at home.

The government's aim to develop Singapore into a premier international trading hub gained momentum with 49 companies being granted approved oil trader status last year. This is in addition to 25 approved international traders who also qualify for tax concessions.

The 74 have generated spinoffs for local business, financial and trade- related services. Benefits are also expected from 15 firms awarded approved international shipping enterprise scheme status.