Singapore’s export-oriented economy struggled in the face of ongoing trade tensions between the US and China and a downcycle in electronics. Real GDP grew an estimated 0.5% in 2019.
The IMF projects a gradual economic recovery in coming years, assuming no further escalation in global trade tensions and gradual pick-up in global electronics demand. Growing demand for 5G telecommunications services, electronics and electric cars should support Singapore’s manufacturing sector in coming years. The information and communications, and finance and insurance sectors should continue to receive a boost from businesses’ ongoing solid demand for IT and digital solutions and sustained demand for payment processing services. Construction is also likely to continue growing, supported by the expansion of the integrated resorts, residential developments, and major infrastructure projects such as Changi Terminal 5 and the Tuas Mega Port.
The IMF forecasts growth to average about 2% over the five years to 2024. Risks to the upside and downside hinge on developments in global trade. Beyond trade, longer term challenges include an ageing population and climate change. But Singapore’s strong fiscal and external buffers and highly effective institutions provides authorities greater ability to address these challenges.