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Trade in Singapore - statistics & facts

Singapore’s location along the historical maritime trading route between China and Europe laid the foundations for its role as a leading trading hub in Asia. Starting out as an entrepôt, it now has the second busiest container port in turnover volume worldwide. Apart from handling a large volume of merchandise trade, Singapore’s high export to import ratio placed it among the countries with the highest trade surplus globally.

From an entrepôt to a global trading hub

As a land-scarce country with almost no natural resources, Singapore’s economy is heavily reliant on global trade. It is one of the leading exporting countries worldwide. However, its re-exports surpass its domestic exports. Apart from the re-exports of oil and petroleum products, other major non-oil merchandise re-exports include that of machinery and transport equipment, as well as chemical products.
Singapore’s position as maritime and aviation transport hubs, as well as its position as a leading financial services sector in Asia, contribute significantly to its export of services from these sectors. Singapore’s export commodities and services provide a significant amount of revenue for the country. On the other hand, the lack of land and resources meant that Singapore heavily relies on imports for its consumption and economic needs. This includes necessities such as water and food, which it imports mainly from its neighboring countries.

Facing the uncertainties and volatilities in global trade

The COVID-19 pandemic, however, has shown how vulnerable Singapore’s export-heavy economy is to the fluctuations of global trade. Border restrictions and lockdowns severely impacted manufacturing outputs and global trade volume, leading to a decline in merchandise trade in Singapore. This resulted in the worst recession in the city-state’s history. However, as more countries start to ease restrictions and global trade started to recover, so too did Singapore’s economic outlook.

In order to ensure stability and maintain competitiveness in its trading sector, Singapore has signed several free trade agreements (FTA), both bilateral and regional as part of ASEAN. Existing bilateral FTAs include the USSFTA and the EUSFTA. Recently, Singapore, as part of ASEAN, became a signatory of the world’s largest FTA, Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), consisting of 15 Asia-Pacific countries. Through eliminating tariffs and the establishing a harmonized set of trade rules among the bloc, the RCEP aims to entice businesses to move their operations and supply chains to the bloc.

Interesting statistics

In the following 5 chapters, you will quickly find the 28 most important statistics relating to "Trade in Singapore".


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