An island country and sovereign city-state in Southeast Asia, the Republic of Singapore shipped US$390.3 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2019. That dollar amount reflects a 9.1% increase since 2015 but a -5.2% retreat from 2018 to 2019.
Based on the average exchange rate for 2019, the Singapore dollar appreciated by 0.8% against the US dollar since 2015 but declined by -1.1% from 2018 to 2019. Singapore’s weaker local currency since 2018 makes its exports paid for in stronger US dollars relatively less expensive for international buyers during 2019.
The latest available country-specific data shows that 76.7% of products exported from Singapore were bought by importers in: China (13.2% of the global total), Hong Kong (11.4%), Malaysia (10.5%), United States (8.8%), Indonesia (7%), Japan (4.5%), Taiwan (4.2%), Thailand (3.9%), South Korea (also 3.9%), Vietnam (3.3%), India (2.9%) and Australia (also 2.9%).
From a continental perspective, 72.5% of Singapore’s exports by value were delivered to fellow Asian countries while 10.1% were sold to importers in Europe. Singapore shipped another 9.5% worth of goods to North America. Smaller percentages went to Oceania (4.6%) led by Australia, Marshall Islands and New Zealand, Latin America (1.8%) excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean then Africa (1.4%).
Given Singapore’s population of 5.7 million people, its total $390.3 billion in 2019 exports translates to a formidable $68,800 for every resident in the exports-dependent nation.
Singapore’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Singaporean global shipments during 2019. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Singapore.
- Electrical machinery, equipment: US$120.7 billion (30.9% of total exports)
- Machinery including computers: $59.3 billion (15.2%)
- Mineral fuels including oil: $47.9 billion (12.3%)
- Optical, technical, medical apparatus: $20.9 billion (5.4%)
- Gems, precious metals: $17.8 billion (4.6%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: $14.6 billion (3.7%)
- Organic chemicals: $12.9 billion (3.3%)
- Perfumes, cosmetics: $9.7 billion (2.5%)
- Pharmaceuticals: $8.1 billion (2.1%)
- Aircraft, spacecraft: $8 billion (2%)
Singapore’s top 10 exports represent 81.9% of the overall value of its global shipments.
Perfumes and cosmetics was the fastest grower among the top 10 export categories, up by 15.6% from 2018 to 2019. In second place for improving export sales was the optical, technical and medical apparatus category via a 9% gain. Singapore’s shipments of aircraft and spacecraft posted the third-fastest gain in value up by 7.8%.
The leading decliner among Singapore’s top 10 export categories was organic chemicals thanks to a -23.8% drop year over year
Note that the results listed above are at the categorized two-digit Harmonized Tariff System (HTS) code level. For a more granular view of exported goods at the four-digit HTS code level, see the section Searchable List of Singapore’s Most Valuable Export Products further down near the bottom of this article.
Overall, Singapore posted a $41.3 billion trade surplus in 2019. Singapore’s trade surplus shrank -9.4% from $45.5 billion in black ink one year earlier.
The following types of Singaporean product shipments represent positive net exports or a trade balance surplus. Investopedia defines net exports as the value of a country’s total exports minus the value of its total imports.
In a nutshell, net exports represent the amount by which foreign spending on a home country’s goods or services exceeds or lags the home country’s spending on foreign goods or services.
- Electrical machinery, equipment: US$22.5 billion (Down by -17% since 2018)
- Optical, technical, medical apparatus: $8.5 billion (Up by 19.5%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: $6.1 billion (Down by -15.5%)
- Organic chemicals: $5.7 billion (Down by -43.2%)
- Pharmaceuticals: $4.92 billion (Down by -9.3%)
- Perfumes, cosmetics: $4.88 billion (Up by 25.5%)
- Miscellaneous food preparations: $4.4 billion (Up by 7.1%)
- Other chemical goods: $2.1 billion (Up by 77.7%)
- Cereal/milk preparations: $1.1 billion (Up by 0.05%)
- Machinery including computers: $989.4 million (Down by -82.5%)
Singapore has highly positive net exports in the international trade of electronics including consumer gadgets. In turn, these cashflows indicate Singapore’s strong competitive advantages under the electrical machinery and equipment category.
Below are exports from Singapore that result in negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on home country Singapore’s goods trail Singaporean importer spending on foreign products.
- Mineral fuels including oil: -US$27.4 billion (Down by -19% since 2018)
- Aircraft, spacecraft: -$3.9 billion (Down by -10.3%)
- Vehicles: -$1.9 billion (Up by 10%)
- Articles of iron or steel: -$1.3 billion (Up by 29%)
- Gems, precious metals: -$1.1 billion (Down by -67.7%)
- Iron, steel: -$1 billion (Down by -3.9%)
- Furniture, bedding, lighting, signs, prefabricated buildings: -$982.5 million (Up by 2.4%)
- Dairy, eggs, honey: -$802.6 million (Down by -3%)
- Meat: -$765.2 million (Down by -2.2%)
- Glass: -$716.9 million (Up by 36.2%)
Singapore has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits for mineral fuels-related goods, particularly crude oil, petroleum gases and refined petroleum oils.
These cashflow deficiencies clearly indicate Singapore’s competitive disadvantages in the international fossil fuel market, but also represent key opportunities for Singapore to improve its position in the global economy through focused innovations especially alternative energy sources.
Singaporean Export Companies
Seventeen corporations based in Singapore rank among Forbes Global 2000. Below is a sample of the major Singaporean export companies that Forbes included.
- Wilmar International (food processing)
- Keppel Corp (industrial conglomerates)
- Flextronics International (electronics)
- Avago Technologies (semiconductors)
- ST Engineering (aerospace )
- Olam International (food processing)
- Golden Agri-Resources (food processing)
- China Aviation Oil (jet fuel trading)
Wikipedia also lists exporters from Singapore. Selected examples are shown below:
- Singapore Technologies Engineering (electronics manufacturing)
- Medical Technology (medical/healthcare equipment)
- Singapore Telecommunications Limited (communications)
According to global trade intelligence firm Zepol, the following smaller companies are also examples of Singaporean export companies:
- Wajilam Export Singapore (wood, chocolate)
- Asahi Glass Singapore (glass sheets)
- Sephora Singapore (copper pipes/tubes, cabinets)
- Ltt Veneer Singapore (soybean flours, hams)
Searchable List of Singapore’s Most Valuable Export Products
The following searchable table displays 100 of the most in-demand goods shipped from Singapore during 2019. Shown beside each product label is its total export value then the percentage increase or decrease since 2018.
|Rank||Singapore's Export Product||2019 Value (US$)||Change|
|2||Processed petroleum oils||$45,891,982,000||-11.8%|
|5||Phone system devices including smartphones||$11,442,907,000||+6.2%|
|6||Machinery for making semi-conductors||$8,537,822,000||-3.4%|
|7||Computers, optical readers||$7,583,003,000||-14%|
|8||Solar power diodes/semi-conductors||$7,353,468,000||-1.9%|
|10||Beauty/makeup/skin care preparations||$6,268,972,000||+21%|
|12||Other food preparations||$5,196,428,000||+9%|
|14||Medication mixes in dosage||$4,331,284,000||-11%|
|15||Unrecorded sound media||$4,247,993,000||-21.8%|
|16||Computer parts, accessories||$4,235,954,000||+6.9%|
|17||Physical/chemical analysis tools||$4,052,136,000||+3.5%|
|18||Electro-medical equipment (e.g. xrays)||$3,200,832,000||+11.6%|
|20||Lower-voltage switches, fuses||$2,552,448,000||-11.5%|
|24||Blood fractions (including antisera)||$2,410,427,000||+4.7%|
|29||Alcohol (including spirits, liqueurs)||$2,272,003,000||+4.4%|
|30||Other measuring/testing machines||$2,231,035,000||+6.2%|
|33||Scents used for beverage or industrial manufacturing||$1,854,884,000||+12.5%|
|35||Heterocyclics, nucleic acids||$1,682,007,000||-8.1%|
|36||Cases, handbags, wallets||$1,589,012,000||+9.8%|
|37||Other diagnostic/lab reagents||$1,487,155,000||+1.6%|
|38||Flour/meal/starch/malt extract food preparations||$1,483,398,000||-0.8%|
|39||Piston engine parts||$1,461,080,000||+34%|
|42||Optical fiber cables, sheets, plates||$1,429,166,000||+37.2%|
|43||Electrical/optical circuit boards, panels||$1,428,297,000||-4.1%|
|45||Electrical converters/power units||$1,422,090,000||-6.2%|
|46||Electric circuit parts, fuses, switches||$1,385,240,000||+18.8%|
|47||Precious metal waste, scrap||$1,315,864,000||+131.9%|
|48||Taps, valves, similar appliances||$1,311,729,000||+9.4%|
|51||Chemicals used in electronics||$1,178,471,000||+17.4%|
|52||Oscilloscopes, spectrum analyzers||$1,134,609,000||+10.3%|
|54||Perfumes, toilet waters||$1,088,722,000||-2.3%|
|56||Petroleum oil residues||$1,007,555,000||-4.9%|
|59||Ball, roller bearings||$988,042,000||-6%|
|60||Electric storage batteries||$965,290,000||+10.6%|
|61||Wrist/pocket watches (precious metal case)||$926,084,000||+2.2%|
|62||TV receiver/transmit/digital cameras||$871,823,000||-11.7%|
|64||Air or vacuum pumps||$839,865,000||+3.7%|
|65||Liquid pumps and elevators||$836,103,000||+2.9%|
|66||Chemical industry products/residuals||$783,679,000||-8.6%|
|68||Electric motors, generators||$763,057,000||-7.1%|
|70||Miscellaneous plastic items||$733,299,000||-5.4%|
|71||Radar, radio communication items||$706,617,000||+23.7%|
|72||Centrifuges, filters and purifiers||$704,018,000||+8%|
|74||Saturated acyclic mono acids||$696,065,000||-20.8%|
|77||Dried organs, heparin||$673,907,000||+40.7%|
|78||TV/radio/radar device parts||$669,808,000||-3.3%|
|81||Uncoated paper for writing/printing||$651,356,000||+1.1%|
|84||Liquid/gas checking instruments||$570,552,000||+13.3%|
|85||Light vessels, fire boats, floating docks||$551,845,000||+118.4%|
|86||Chemical woodpulp (non-dissolving)||$551,802,000||-29.4%|
|88||Wrist/pocket watches (no precious metal case)||$525,873,000||-2.6%|
|90||Cellulose fiber paper||$509,882,000||-2.8%|
|92||Lenses, prisms, mirrors||$501,073,000||-11.2%|
|93||Self-adhesive plastic in rolls||$497,506,000||+0.5%|
|94||Chocolate, other cocoa preparations||$487,271,000||+16.5%|
|95||Miscellaneous iron or steel items||$475,551,000||+18.2%|
|96||Transmission shafts, gears, clutches||$463,601,000||-0.6%|
|98||Coal tar oils (high temperature distillation)||$455,439,000||+57.6%|
|99||Assembly machines for electric lamps, tubes, flashbulbs||$448,563,000||-4.9%|
These 100 exported goods were worth a subtotal of US$324.9 billion or 83.2% by value for all products exported from Singapore during 2019.
See also Singapore’s Top 10 Major Export Companies, Singapore’s Top Trading Partners and Singapore’s Top 10 Imports
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook Country Profiles. Accessed on February 29, 2020
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on February 29, 2020
International Monetary Fund, Exchange Rates selected indicators (National Currency per U.S. dollar, period average). Accessed on February 29, 2020
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on February 29, 2020
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on February 29, 2020
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on February 29, 2020
Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on February 29, 2020
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Singapore. Accessed on February 29, 2020
Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on February 29, 2020
Zepol’s company summary highlights by country. Accessed on February 29, 2020