Singapore economy grows 0.2% in Q1, first expansion since onset of Covid-19: Flash data

SINGAPORE – The Singapore economy grew by 0.2 per cent on a year-on-year basis in the first quarter of 2021, a turnaround from the 2.4 per cent contraction recorded in the previous quarter, according to advance estimates released by the Ministry of Trade and Industry on Wednesday (April 14).

On a quarter-on-quarter seasonally-adjusted basis, the economy expanded by 2.0 per cent, extending the 3.8 per cent growth in the preceding quarter.

The first-quarter growth was a surprise as analysts had tipped the economy to shrink 0.5 per cent year-on-year, according to a Bloomberg poll. The survey also forecast a growth of 1.7 per cent on a quarter-on-quarter seasonally adjusted basis in the January-March period.

This was the economy’s first quarterly growth since the fourth quarter of 2019, before the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.

MTI has maintained its November forecast of the economy growing by 4.0 to 6.0 per cent this year. The higher end of the 2021 estimate would make it the best year since 2011, when gross domestic product grew by 6.3 per cent.

After an unprecedented 5.4 per cent economic contraction, which was Singapore’s worst-ever recession since independence, the 2021 estimate looks stellar. The economy grew by 1.3 per cent in 2019.

However, the growth acceleration this year can be partially attributed to the low base set in the second quarter of last year when the economy shrank by 13.3 per cent – the worst in a quarter ever.

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