Singapore’s economy sees a worst-ever quarterly contraction of 13.2%

Singapore: Singapore’s economy contracted by 13.2 per cent on a year-on-year basis in the April-June quarter, its worst quarterly economic performance on record amidst the coronavirus pandemic, according to data released on Tuesday.

The numbers reflect the impact of COVID-19, as well as deeper forces reshaping the global economy and our position in the global value chains, Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing said.

The data showed that Singapore’s economy had contracted by 13.2 per cent on a year-on-year basis in the April to June quarter, worse than the 12.6 per cent decline seen in the Government’s advance estimate and a sharp deterioration from the 0.3 per cent contraction in the previous quarter.

To put things in context, this is our worst quarterly performance on record. The forecast for 2020 essentially means the growth generated over the past two to three years will be negated, Chan told a press conference.

We are not returning to a pre-COVID-19 world We must chart a new direction now, the minister was quoted as saying by Channel News Asia.

He also cautioned that the current crisis is unlike the 1998 Asian financial crisis or 2009 global financial crisis, where “if we hunker down, things will improve in a few months”.

“If we wait it out, we will likely be in worse shape than we are now,” he said, adding that Singapore must start now to build a new economy and create more and better job opportunities for people. “We cannot wait for COVID-19 to blow over.”

But the minister noted that some are still hoping for a quick economic recovery and a return to the familiarity of the old normal, underlining that the painful truth is that we are not returning to a pre-COVID-19 world and that recovery will be some time yet and not likely to be smooth.

We can expect recurring waves of infection and disruption, he said of the COVID-19 and its devastating impact on the global economy.

Singapore reported the lowest number of COVID-19 cases as of noon on Tuesday, including two in the community and three imported infections, said the Ministry of Health (MOH).

It is the lowest number of daily cases since April 2, when 49 cases were reported. Tuesday’s cases bring the total number of infections in the country to 55,353.

Chan also highlighted the significance of several global changes beyond the outbreak.

The geopolitical environment that has allowed Singapore to thrive in the last 50 years has changed,

The tensions amongst the major powers are increasing, he said, apparently referring to the souring of US-China relations on a number of issues.

Chan said he hoped geopolitical issues will not spill into open conflict, further (destabilising) the rest of the world.

We must avoid being caught between the conflicts of major powers or be stranded in a fragmenting world of trade relations and technological standards, he stressed.

Global companies are also reorganising their production and supply chains, with some reviewing the need for regional hubs and the way they organise their production to serve different markets.

New investments will come our way some existing ones may also diversify away from Singapore … It is a fluid landscape and we must do everything we can to defend our capabilities and capacities. said the minister.

Chan also pointed out how the nature of jobs has changed.

With remote work, more global job opportunities for our workers will come. But it also means that other workers, in other countries, can do our jobs from their homes.

You might have noticed that some jobs in the regional headquarters here are being advertised as can work in Singapore’ or can work remotely’,” he said.

Meanwhile, both the community cases reported on Tuesday were Singaporeans, said MOH in its preliminary daily update.

The three imported cases were placed on stay-home notices upon arrival in Singapore.

The vast majority of infections are work permit holders currently under quarantine.

The MOH said the 12 imported cases reported on Monday came from Bangladesh, India and the Philippines.

There are currently 112 confirmed cases who are still in the hospital. Of these, most are stable or improving, and 5,544 are isolated and cared for at community facilities for mild symptoms, or those who are clinically well but still test positive for COVID-19.

In all, 49,609 have fully recovered from the infection and have been discharged from hospitals or community care facilities. On Monday, 694 cases have recovered and were discharged from hospital and community isolation facilities.