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The Week in Numbers: Trump-Kim Summit Under Threat

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The historic first meeting, scheduled four weeks from now, between the United States President, Donald Trump, and North Korean leader, Kim Jung Un, is in doubt as North Korea warned that it might pull out. North Korea said that it would not attend the summit if the US continues to demand it unilaterally abandon its nuclear arsenal. North Korea defends its nuclear and missile program as a deterrent against perceived aggression by the US, which keeps 28,500 troops in South Korea, a legacy from the Korean War, more than 65 years ago.

Back in Singapore, non-oil domestic export for the month of April surged 11.8% in April. This was better than economist estimates of a 7.3% increase and followed a 3.2% drop in March and a 6% fall in February. However, export of electronics declined 6.9% in April, due to a decrease in exports of parts of PCs, integrated circuits, and diodes and transistors. Non-electronic non-oil domestic exports more than made up for it with a 19.6% growth. Non-oil re-exports increased 8.2%, after falling 0.4% in March.

Another five sites in Singapore have been put up for collective sale with a total value in excess of S$1.2 billion. Cavenagh Gardens, with a minimum sale price of S$480 million, has the biggest price tag and a price per square foot of S$1,640. This comes amidst a flurry of collective sales this year with 26 sites amounting to S$8.33 billion already sold in the past 4.5 months. This is already close to the S$8.79 billion sold for the whole of 2017.

Malaysia’s Mahathir Mohamad-led government, which won last week’s historic general election, has kept its promise to remove the 6% GST, starting from June 1. Ousted leader Najib Razak had introduced the tax three years ago, amidst lower revenue from oil prices. Najib’s government had planned to collect 43.8 billion ringgit (US11.05 billion) in 2018 in GST, about 18% of revenue.

Meanwhile, Japan’s economy shrank for the first time in two years in the first quarter of 2018. Gross domestic product declined 0.6% on a yearly basis. Furthermore, growth in the last three months of 2017 was revised down to 0.6% from 1.6%. Private consumption was stable in the first quarter from the previous quarter. Net exports added 0.1% to GDP growth, while business spending declined 0.1% from the previous quarter.

Chinese Vice Premier Liu He arrived in Washington on Tuesday to further trade talks with the US delegation. The five-day visit is to prevent trade tensions from developing into a full-blown trade war. A trade war between the two largest economies in the world, and which encompasses more than US$700 billion in trade each year can have a material effect on the world economy.

Finally, two bottles of a rare 60-year old Macallan whisky could sell for record prices in a Hong Kong auction on Friday. Offered separately on the sale, each 750-milliliter bottle is estimated to be worth HKS$3.6 million to HK$4.5 million (US$459,000 to US$573,000). Including a 22.5% buyers premium, the auction could break the previous record of HK$4.9 million set in 2014 for a six liter bottle of Macallan 60-year old.

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