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Economy’s solid growth to spill into 2008: NTU

It cites uptick in world electronics demand, sizzling construction activity

THANKS to the sustained health of the global economy, an uptick in world electronics demand and sizzling construction activity here, the rosy picture for Singapore’s economy will persist into next year, Nanyang Technological University economists said yesterday.

Singapore’s gross domestic product is expected to grow 8.3 per cent this year and 7.5 per cent in 2008, the Econometric Modelling Unit (EMU) of the Economic Growth Centre at NTU said in its bi-annual forecast for the economy.

‘The expected growth in 2008 is due to external demand conditions, mainly the world economy is expected to remain healthy, China and India are expected to drive growth in Asia and the aggressive policies of the Federal Reserve with regard to the sub-prime mortgage market in the US would likely contain the credit squeeze in the US,’ said NTU Associate Professor Joseph Alba.

Based on leading indicators for the electronics cluster, the upturn in global electronics demand will likely gather pace in 2008, while construction activity amid buoyant property prices and spillover effects from the building of the two integrated resorts here will provide further stimulus, he added.

The forecasts were made barring additional risks in the Middle East that could cause oil prices to spike further, but assumed high oil prices of US$80 a barrel.

Assoc Prof Choy Keen Meng, who has been spearheading the macro-economic forecasts since 2001, said the impact of oil price spikes on economic growth is not discernable as there are offsetting factors.

‘Historically, the impact of oil price increases on the Singapore economy has been ambiguous,’ said Assoc Prof Choy.

For the fourth quarter of this year, EMU expects Singapore’s economy to grow 8.6 per cent after the government’s advance estimates showed the economy growing 9.4 per cent in Q3.

Giving a sectoral breakdown, Assoc Prof Alba said growth in manufacturing, hotels and restaurants, transport and storage and information and communications is expected to accelerate in 2008 from 2007. But sectors like construction and financial services could see slightly slower growth in 2008 given the high base of comparison in 2007.

EMU also projects that one-off impact of the two percentage-point hike in the Goods and Services Tax will likely blow over by 2008, with the Consumer Price Index (CPI) to be 2.6 per cent in Q4, 1.6 per cent for the whole year and 2.4 per cent in 2008.

This falls within the official CPI forecast by the Monetary Authority of Singapore of 1.5-2 per cent for 2007 and 2- 3 per cent for 2008.

The buoyant economic outlook is expected to put more pressure on inflation as labour costs increase, EMU said, but added that these wage pressures may moderate in 2008 as productivity growth accelerates or employment is allowed to grow through Singapore’s flexible foreign labour policy.

It estimates that job creation will reach a record of 200,000 this year, after an all-time high of 176,000 last year.

EMU’s projected job creation would take the unemployment rate to 2.3 per cent for 2007 and 2 per cent for 2008 – the lowest level in a decade.


Source: Business Times 18 Oct 07

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