Singapore’s Top Trading Partners

Singapore's Top Trading Partners

by Free Country Flags

Nicknamed the Fine Country, the Republic of Singapore is a Southeast Asian island strategically located near China, Malaysia, Indonesia and Australia.

Singapore shipped US$373.2 billion worth of products around the globe in 2017. That figure represents roughly 2.3% of overall global exports estimated at $15.952 trillion for the prior year.

From a continental perspective, three-quarters (75.4%) of Singaporean exports by value are delivered to other Asian countries while 9.5% are sold to European importers.

Singapore shipped another 7% worth of products to North American clients. A smaller 2.2% portion went to Latin America excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean.

Singapore’s Top Trading Partners

Top 15

Below is a list showcasing 15 of Singapore’s top trading partners. That is, these are countries that imported the most Singaporean export shipments by dollar value during 2017. Also shown is each import country’s percentage of total Singaporean exports.

  1. China: US$54 billion (14.5% of total Singaporean exports)
  2. Hong Kong: $46 billion (12.3%)
  3. Malaysia: $39.6 billion (10.6%)
  4. Indonesia: $28 billion (7.5%)
  5. United States: $24.2 billion (6.5%)
  6. Japan: $17.1 billion (4.6%)
  7. South Korea: $16.7 billion (4.5%)
  8. Taiwan: $16.6 billion (4.4%)
  9. Thailand: $14.7 billion (3.9%)
  10. Vietnam: $12.3 billion (3.3%)
  11. India: $11 billion (3%)
  12. Australia: $10 billion (2.7%)
  13. Netherlands: $7.8 billion (2.1%)
  14. Philippines: $7.3 billion (1.9%)
  15. Germany: $6.2 billion (1.7%)

Over four-fifths (83.4%) of Singaporean exports in 2017 were delivered to the above 15 trade partners.

Nine of the 15 top importers increased their purchases from Singapore from 2013 to 2017. Gains ranged from a modest 0.4% for Hong Kong up to 21.7% for the Netherlands.

Declines in import purchases from Singapore were led by Australia (down -36.5%), Indonesia (down -31.1%) and Malaysia (down -20.6%).

Deficits

As defined by Investopedia, a country whose total value of all imported goods is higher than its value of all exports is said to have a negative trade balance or deficit.

It would be unrealistic for any exporting nation to expect across-the-board positive trade balances with all its importing partners. Similarly, that export country doesn’t necessarily post a negative trade balance with each individual partner with which it exchanges exports and imports.

Singapore incurred the highest trade deficits with the following countries:

  1. Taiwan: -US$10.6 billion (country-specific trade deficit in 2017)
  2. United States: -$10.4 billion
  3. Saudi Arabia: -$8.3 billion
  4. Switzerland: -$6.8 billion
  5. France: -$5.2 billion
  6. United Arab Emirates: -$5.2 billion
  7. Qatar: -$4.7 billion
  8. Russia: -$4 billion
  9. Japan: -$3.4 billion
  10. Germany: -$3.3 billion

Only three Singapore’s trading partners that cause the greatest negative trade balances, Singaporean deficits with Switzerland (up 135.3%), France (up 59.4%) and Japan (up 23.5%) grew at the fastest pace from 2013 to 2017.

These cashflow deficiencies clearly indicate Singapore’s competitive disadvantages with the above countries, but also represent key opportunities for Singapore to develop country-specific strategies to strengthen its overall position in international trade.

Surpluses

Overall, Singapore earned a US$45.5 billion trade surplus for 2017. That dollar amount is up by 22.3% since 2013 but down by -2.8% from one year earlier.

Based on Investopedia’s definition of net importer, a country whose total value of all imported goods is lower than its value of all exports is said to have a positive trade balance or surplus.

Singapore incurred the highest trade surpluses with the following countries:

  1. Hong Kong: US$41.6 billion (country-specific trade deficit in 2017)
  2. Indonesia: $12.8 billion
  3. Vietnam: $8.9 billion
  4. China: $8.7 billion
  5. Thailand: $7.5 billion
  6. Australia: $5.9 billion
  7. Panama: $5.3 billion
  8. Netherlands: $4.3 billion
  9. India: $3.7 billion
  10. Belgium: $3.7 billion

Among Singapore’s trading partners that cause the greatest positive trade balances, Singaporean surpluses with Netherlands (up 517%), China (up 85.8%) and India (up 78.4%) grew at the fastest pace from 2013 to 2017.

These positive cashflow streams clearly indicate Singapore’s competitive advantages with the above countries, but also represent key opportunities for Singapore to develop country-specific strategies to optimize its overall position in international trade.

Companies

Companies Servicing Singaporean Trading Partners

Seventeen corporations rank among Forbes Global 2000 for 2015. 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)

See also Singapore’s Top 10 Major Export Companies, Singapore’s Top 10 Exports, Singapore’s Top 10 Imports, Highest Value Singaporean Import Products and Highest Value Singaporean Export Products

Research Sources:
The World Factbook, Field Listing: Imports – Commodities, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on February 5, 2018

Trade Map, International Trade Centre, www.intracen.org/marketanalysis. Accessed on February 5, 2018

Investopedia, Net Importer Definition. Accessed on February 5, 2018

Forbes 2015 Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on February 5, 2018

Zepol’s company summary highlights by country. Accessed on February 5, 2018