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Singapore grows but uncertainty is still there

Staff Writer |
Singapore’s economy grew at a faster pace in the final three months of last year than initially thought.

But the government warned the outlook remained hostage to policy and protectionist risks in the United States.

That uncertainty was reflected in the affluent city state retaining its 2017 growth forecast in a wide 1.0 to 3.0 percent range, underscoring the small, open economy’s vulnerability to external headwinds.

“If protectionist approaches become the norm, global trade will be adversely affected, with knock-on effects on economic growth worldwide,” the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) said in a statement accompanying revised GDP data on Friday.

The ministry’s cautious tone took some of the shine off a surge in manufacturing, which lifted economic growth to 12.3 percent in the fourth quarter from the previous three months on an annualised and seasonally adjusted basis, bouncing from a contraction of 0.4 percent in the third quarter.

That was up from the government’s initial estimate of a 9.1 percent expansion and compared with expectations of 12.6 percent growth.

Still, full-year 2016 growth of 2.0 percent was barely above the 1.9 percent rate clocked in 2015 - the weakest since 2009, knocked by falling exports and cooling demand from major trading partner China.

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