SINGAPORE – Singapore’s factory output shrank for the second straight month in June, on the back of a plunge in biomedical manufacturing, according to data released by the Economic Development Board (EDB) on Friday (July 24).

Manufacturing output fell by 6.7 per cent last month compared with the same period the year ago, an easing of the revised 8.1 per cent decline in May.

But excluding biomedical manufacturing, output grew 2.1 per cent.

Biomedical production recorded one of the largest falls, with output tumbling 30.6 per cent. The medical technology segment grew 5.9 per cent to meet export demand for Covid-related medical devices, but the pharmaceutical segment contracted 37.4 per cent with lower output of biological products.

On a year-to-date basis, the biomedical manufacturing cluster grew 26.6 per cent compared to the same period a year ago.

On the other hand, the electronics cluster saw output grow by 17.3 per cent, which is largely due to the semiconductors segment which expanded by 26 per cent, supported by demand from cloud services and data centres, as well as 5G markets.

But the other electronic modules and components and computers and data storage segments contracted. Overall, output of the electronics cluster fell 0.4 per cent in the first half of this year, compared with last year.

The precision engineering cluster also expanded, by 9.1 per cent. The machinery and systems segment grew 11.1 per cent on account of higher production of semiconductor equipment. The precision modules and components output also increased, by 2.9 per cent with higher output in optical products and metal precision components.

Overall, the precision engineering cluster grew 11.6 per cent in the first six months of this year.

However, the output of chemicals fell 12.1 per cent year-on-year in June, with all segments except for petrochemicals recording output decline.

The other chemicals, specialties and petroleum segments contracted, on the back of plant maintenance shutdowns and lower export orders amid the Covid-19 outbreak.

In the first six months of this year, output of the chemicals cluster fell 5.5 per cent compared with the same period in 2019.

General manufacturing also saw output falling, by 13.9 per cent last month. All segments within the cluster recorded output declines, such as the food, beverage and tobacco segment and the printing and miscellaneous industries segments, with the latter registering lower output of construction-related products.

On a year-to-date basis, output of the general manufacturing industries cluster declined 10.9 per cent compared with the same period a year ago.

Transport engineering also saw a large drop in output, of 33.9 per cent in June 2020, with all segments recording a decline.

The aerospace segment contracted 23 per cent as the volume of aircraft repair and maintenance work remained low amid the coronavirus pandemic. The marine and offshore engineering segment shrank 53.5 per cent as movement restrictions at foreign worker dormitories slowed the progression of work in the shipyards, EDB noted.

Overall, the transport engineering cluster fell 15.7 per cent in the first six months of 2020 compared with the same period last year.

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