Singapore exported US$457.7 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2021, up by 22.7% since 2017 when Singaporean exports totaled $373.1 billion.
Singapore’s total for 2021 is also 22.4% higher than the country’s $373.9 billion worth of exports during 2020.
The 5 most valuable countries in terms of buying products exported by Singapore are mainland China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, United States of America, and Indonesia. Collectively, that powerful cohort that comprise Singapore’s top 5 imports customers accounted for over half (52.1%) of overall Singaporean revenues from exports sales.
Applying a continental lens, almost three-quarters (74.1%) of Singapore exports by value were delivered to Asian countries while 9.3% were sold to European importers. Close behind at 9.1% were buyers in North America.
Smaller percentages of Singaporean exports went to Oceania (4.4%) led by Australia, Marshall Islands and New Zealand, Latin America (1.7%) excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean, then Africa (1.3%).
Singapore’s Top Trading Partners
Below is a list showcasing 25 of Singapore’s top trading partners. That is, these are countries that imported the most Singaporean export shipments by dollar value during 2021. Also shown is each import country’s percentage of total Singaporean exports.
- China: US$67.8 billion (14.8% of Singapore’s total exports)
- Hong Kong: $60.2 billion (13.1%)
- Malaysia: $42.2 billion (9.2%)
- United States: $39.3 billion (8.6%)
- Indonesia: $28.8 billion (6.3%)
- Taiwan: $23.3 billion (5.1%)
- South Korea: $19.7 billion (4.3%)
- Japan: $18.4 billion (4%)
- Vietnam: $15.7 billion (3.4%)
- Thailand: $15.6 billion (3.4%)
- Australia: $13 billion (2.9%)
- India: $12.6 billion (2.8%)
- Netherlands: $9.7 billion (2.1%)
- Philippines: $9.2 billion (2%)
- Germany: $7.1 billion (1.6%)
- Cambodia: $6.6 billion (1.4%)
- Belgium: $5.4 billion (1.2%)
- Panama: $4.3 billion (0.9%)
- United Arab Emirates: $4 billion (0.9%)
- France: $3.9 billion (0.8%)
- United Kingdom: $3.7 billion (0.8%)
- Bangladesh: $3.63 billion (0.8%)
- Marshall Islands: $3.59 billion (0.8%)
- Switzerland: $3.43 billion (0.7%)
- Liberia: $3.35 billion (0.7%)
Over nine-tenths (92.8%) of Singaporean exports in 2021 were delivered to the above 25 trade partners.
Among the above top importers that increased their purchases from Singapore the most from 2020 to 2021, Cambodia placed first (up 339.7%). In second place was another Asian trade partner Bangladesh (up 53.3%) trailed by Australia (up 52.5%), India (up 37.7%), Switzerland (up 35.2%), Indonesia (up 34.4%) then mainland China (up 32%).
The decliners were importers in the United Kingdom (down -16.7% compared to 2020), France (down -7.8%), Netherlands (down -4.8%) and the United States of America (down -2.3%).
Countries Causing Worst Trading Deficits for Singapore
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.
- Taiwan: -US$27.8 billion (country-specific trade deficit in 2021)
- Malaysia: -$11.6 billion
- United Arab Emirates: -$8.5 billion
- France: -$7.7 billion
- Saudi Arabia: -$5.2 billion
- Switzerland: -$4.8 billion
- Qatar: -$4.3 billion
- Italy: -$4.1 billion
- Japan: -$3.5 billion
- Germany: -$3.2 billion
Among Singapore’s trading partners that cause the greatest negative trade balances, Singaporean deficits with Japan (up 1,295%), United Arab Emirates (up 167.6%) and Taiwan (up 54%) grew at the fastest pace from 2020 to 2021.
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.
Countries Generating Best Trading Surpluses for Singapore
Singapore posted an overall $50.8 billion trade surplus in 2021. Singapore’s trade surplus grew 12.8% from $45.1 billion in black ink 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.
- Hong Kong: US$56.9 billion (country-specific trade surplus in 2021)
- Indonesia: $13.6 billion
- mainland China: $13.1 billion
- Vietnam: $11.3 billion
- Netherlands: $6.6 billion
- Cambodia: $6.4 billion
- Thailand: $5.82 billion
- Australia: $5.8 billion
- India: $5.3 billion
- Panama: $4.3 billion
Among Singapore’s trading partners that generate the greatest positive trade balances, Singaporean surpluses with mainland China (up 230.6%), Indonesia (up 81.7%) and Australia (up 51.3%) grew at the fastest pace from 2020 to 2021.
In addition, Singapore went from a -$1.1 billion trade deficit during 2020 to post a $6.4 billion surplus for 2021.
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.
Singapore’s Major Companies Servicing Its Trading Partners
Seventeen corporations rank among Forbes Global 2000. Below is a sample of the major Singaporean export companies that Forbes included.
- Avago Technologies (semiconductors)
- China Aviation Oil (jet fuel trading)
- Flextronics International (electronics)
- Golden Agri-Resources (food processing)
- Keppel Corp (industrial conglomerates)
- Olam International (food processing)
- ST Engineering (aerospace )
- Wilmar International (food processing)
Wikipedia also lists exporters from Singapore. Selected examples are shown below:
- Medical Technology (medical/healthcare equipment)
- Singapore Technologies Engineering (electronics manufacturing)
- Singapore Telecommunications Limited (communications)
According to global trade intelligence firm Zepol, the following smaller companies are also examples of Singaporean export companies.
- Asahi Glass Singapore (glass sheets)
- Ltt Veneer Singapore (soybean flours, hams)
- Sephora Singapore (copper pipes/tubes, cabinets)
- Wajilam Export Singapore (wood, chocolate)
See also Singapore’s Top 10 Exports , Singapore’s Top 10 Imports, Singapore’s Top 10 Major Export Companies and China’s Top Trading Partners
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook Country Profiles. Accessed on June 1, 2022
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on June 1, 2022
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on June 1, 2022
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on June 1, 2022
Zepol’s company summary highlights by country. Accessed on June 1, 2022