Singapore flag Singapore: Economic outline

Economic Outline

Economic Indicators

For the latest updates on the key economic responses from governments to address the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, please consult the IMF's policy tracking platform Policy Responses to COVID-19.

Singapore's economy is characterised by excellent finances and a high degree of openness, with the country being highly dependent on international trade. However, GDP only grew 1.3% in 2019, the worst the slowdown in 10 years at the time, mainly due to the trade war between the US and China and to a cyclical global downturn in the electronic sector. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the country registered a negative GDP growth of -5.4% in 2020 before a strong rebound at +6% in 2021. The latest IMF forecast is expecting a 3.2% rate in 2022 and 2.7% in 2023, subject to the post-pandemic global economic recovery. Growth factors include Singapore business-friendly regulatory system, 176.2% of GDP in exports and domestic demand.

The country's government balance was positive at 1.8% of GDP in 2019 but dived to -9.6% due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on public spending before a come back to -2.4% in 2021. It is expected to come back to -0.3% and then -0.2% in 2022 and 2023 (IMF, October 2021). Singapore's gross debt remained high at 137.9% of GDP in 2021 and is projected to increase slightly to 139% in 2022 and 140.2% in 2023. While public debt is high, financial assets held by the country more than compensate for it.  As for the previous year, inflation is well under the 2% target fixed by the central bank. It even turned negative in 2020 (-0.2%) before reaching 1.6% in 2021. The IMF is forecasting inflation of 1.5% for 2022 and 2023. The Monetary Authority of Singapore is expected to maintain its policy in 2022. Economic challenges include slower exports due to Chinese economic slowdown, the U.S.-China trade war, decreasing global demand for electronics (19.7% of exports), a lagging construction sector, and a tight monetary policy, according to Coface.

In 2022, the country’s most immediate challenge remains related to the economic, social and public health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Although per capita wealth in Singapore is amongst the highest in the region, unemployment has appeared due to structural economic changes (outsourcing of low-skilled work) and the COVID-19 crisis. Singapore’s annual average unemployment rate reached 2.7% in 2021 and is expected to slightly decrease to 2.5% in 2022 and 2.4% in 2023 despite the negative economic impact of the COVID-19 (IMF, October 2021). Singapore ranked the best country in the world in human capital development in 2021 (World Bank, 2022). According to Labour Market Advance, Singapore made improvements in total employment and local employment towards the end of 2020. Singapore’s labour market will bottom out by 2022, but according to analysts, the recovery will be uneven and may widen the national income gap. Social challenges include rising income inequality and social discontent caused by overpopulation, high competition for employment and housing, lack of skilled labour, an ageing population, and distrust towards immigration.

 
Main Indicators 20202021 (e)2022 (e)2023 (e)2024 (e)
GDP (billions USD) 345.29396.99423.63447.16470.11
GDP (Constant Prices, Annual % Change) -4.17.63.02.32.6
GDP per Capita (USD) 6072798488
General Government Balance (in % of GDP) -7.9-2.3-0.5-0.50.6
General Government Gross Debt (in % of GDP) 152.0159.9141.1140.0139.9
Inflation Rate (%) -0.22.35.53.02.0
Unemployment Rate (% of the Labour Force) 3.02.72.12.12.1
Current Account (billions USD) 58.1471.9354.1456.0157.75
Current Account (in % of GDP) 16.818.112.812.512.3

Source: IMF – World Economic Outlook Database, 2016

Note: (e) Estimated Data

 
Monetary Indicators 20162017201820192020
Singapore Dollar (SGD) - Average Annual Exchange Rate For 1 GHS 0.350.320.290.270.25

Source: World Bank, 2015

 

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Latest Update: November 2022