Q4 economic performance likely to mirror Q3's: Hng Kiang

Q4 economic performance likely to mirror Q3's: Hng Kiang

The performance of the Singapore economy in the fourth quarter of 2012 is likely to mirror that of the previous three months, said Trade and Industry Minister Lim Hng Kiang on wednesday.

And should the eventual Q4 numbers turn out as expected, the overall forecast for the year will remain at "about 1.5 per cent", he told reporters in New Delhi as he wrapped up a three-day working visit to the Indian capital.

According to preliminary estimates released last month, the economy expanded by 0.3 per cent on a year-on-year basis in the third quarter, following a 2.5 per cent increase in the preceding quarter. On a quarter-on-quarter seasonally adjusted annualised basis, the economy contracted by 5.9 per cent in Q3, after growing by 0.5 per cent in the previous quarter.

As for 2013, Mr Lim said that Singapore would have to "brace itself" for a difficult year ahead given the difficulties faced by many developed markets around the world.

The Singapore government has forecast growth for next year to come in at 1-3 per cent, which is "slightly below potential" for the Republic.

"If you look at the developed markets, the growth is below their potential. And for the emerging markets, growth is still holding up but the strength cannot counteract the slowdown in the developed markets. Overall, I think for global growth, the estimate is that it will be below potential," said Mr Lim.

And beyond these external factors, Singapore also has several internal domestic adjustments to make, such as having to reduce the inflow of foreign workers over the coming years.

This, Mr Lim added, was something that Singapore had to explain to its foreign partners.

"We have to explain that conditions have changed. We have been very open and we continue to be open. But at the same time, we cannot expect the flows to Singapore to amount to one million foreign workers over 10 years. Those kinds of levels of flows are not sustainable."

"Many of the companies do understand and we want to create as much understanding and appreciation of our policy change. We try to give as much certainty as possible, we give longer lead times for adjustments. I think the companies are coping reasonably well."

Mr Lim was in New Delhi to attend both the Asean-India Ministerial Meeting and the second India- Asean Business Fair and Business Conclave events.

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