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Last Week in Numbers: Trade War

Credit: Gage Skidmore

On Thursday midnight, new US tariffs on billions of dollars worth of Chinese goods took effect.

The US first threatened 25% tariffs on US$50 billion worth of goods. However, the list was pared down to 818 product categories worth US$32 billion in exports. A second tranche of 284 goods, valued at US$16 billion, bringing the total closer to US$50 billion, will be targeted after an additional process of review. Beijing would hit back with tariffs on nearly US$30 billion in US goods, also taking effect on Friday.

US President Donald Trump has re-countered with a threat to progressively increase US tariffs up to a total of US$450 billion in goods, which would include the bulk of the total China exports to the United States.

Former Malaysian Prime Minister, Najib Razak, was arrested on Tuesday. He was taken to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) headquarters in Putrajaya. MACC’s investigation is focused on how RM42 million (US$10.6 million) went from SRC International into his bank account. SRC International was created in 2011 by Najib’s government to pursue overseas investments in energy resources.

1MDB, founded by Najib in 2009, is currently being investigated in at least six countries for alleged money laundering and graft. Civil lawsuits filed by the US Department of Justice cite that nearly US$4.5 billion from 1MDB had been laundered. Furthermore, on Monday, the 1MDB special task force, that was set up for this case, announced that more than 400 bank accounts involving RM1.1 billion of funds from individuals, political parties and other non-government organisations were frozen.

Prices of resale Housing board flats fell 0.3% last month from May, and 1.9% from a year ago. Prices are now 13.3% below its peak reached in April 2013. According to HDB resale data compiled by SRX Property, 1988 HDB resale flats were sold in June, 13.4% more than in May. Resale volume was also 13.4% more than the corresponding month last year.

A new S$80 million passenger terminal will open at Seletar Airport in December this year. This will provide additional capacity for Singapore’s private and business jet traffic, and free up some capacity at Changi Airport. The new facility is six times bigger than the current terminal and is designed to handle up to 700,000 passengers a year. The departure area will have four check-in counters, six immigration lanes, two security screening stations and one gate hold room with a 200-passenger capacity.

Monetary Authority of Singapore chief, Ravi Menon, said that gross domestic product (GDP) in Singapore is expected to grow by 2.5 to 3.5% in 2018, unchanged from an earlier official forecast released in May. However, he added that spillovers from global trade conflicts “bear close watching”.

Bilateral trade between the United States and China indirectly contributes about 1.1% of Singapore’s GDP. Flows between the US and European Union add another 0.5%, while trade between the US, Canada and Mexico contribute 0.6%.

Finally, Singapore bank lending remained flat in May from the previous month. Singapore dollar lending stood at S$668 billion in May, 0.1% up from April. The pace of growth was slower than April’s 0.8% increase, due largely to a slower growth in business loans. Business lending inched up 0.1% in May compared to 1.2% in April. Consumer lending in May increased 0.1% to S$265 billion, while in April, the increase was 0.3%. On a yearly basis, bank lending in May rose 5.5%.

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The information provided is for general information purposes only and is not intended to be personalised investment or financial advice. Motley Fool Singapore contributor Jeremy Chia doesn’t own shares in any companies mentioned.