May 1, 2018 / 4:19 AM / 25 days ago

Singapore PM says good chance economic growth will top 2.5 percent in 2018

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Tuesday the country’s economic growth for the year should exceed 2.5 percent “if all goes well”, but brewing global trade tensions were clouding the outlook.

Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong hosts an ASEAN working dinner in Singapore April 27, 2018. ASEAN2018 Organising Committee/Handout via REUTERS

The world’s major economies were expected to perform well this year, which is positive for Singapore’s growth as it depends largely on the external environment, Lee said in a Labour Day speech.

“We expect growth for the whole year to be 1.5 to 3.5 percent, and if all goes well, we should do better than 2.5 percent,” Lee said.

Singapore’s economy expanded 3.6 percent in 2017, the fastest pace in three years, thanks to an exports boom,

“There are tensions brewing which are clouding the outlook,” Lee said, and cited simmering tariff standoff between the United States and China.

Lee has previously warned that a trade war will have a major impact on the city-state - often seen as a bellwether for global growth - because international trade dwarfs its economy.

Exports, for instance, equate to around 200 percent of Singapore’s gross domestic product.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) earlier this month tightened its exchange-rate based monetary policy for the first time in six years.

Reporting by Jack Kim; Editing by Jacqueline Wong & Shri Navaratnam

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