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 +7.6% in 2021 and a slow down at 3% in 2021. The latest IMF forecast is expecting a 2.3% rate in 2023 and 2.6% in 2024, subject to the post-pandemic global economic recovery. Growth factors include Singapore business-friendly regulatory system, 184.8% of GDP in exports and domestic demand.

The country's government balance dived to -7.9% of GDP due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on public spending, before a come back to -2.3% in 2021 and -0,5% in 2022. It is expected to remain at -0.5% in 2023 and to come back in positive territory at +0.6% in 2024 (IMF, October 2022). Singapore's gross debt remained high at 159.9% and 141.1% of GDP in 2021 and 2022, and is projected to remain at 140% in 2023 and 139.9% in 2024. While public debt is high, financial assets held by the country more than compensate for it.  Inflation was negative in 2020 (-0.2%) before reaching 2.3% in 2021 and 5.5% in 2022. The IMF is forecasting inflation of 3% in 2023 and 2% in 2024. The Monetary Authority of Singapore is expected to maintain its policy in 2023. 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.

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 2.1% in 2022, and is expected to remain at 2.1% in 2023 and 2024 (IMF, October 2022). Singapore ranked the best country in the world in human capital development in 2021 (World Bank, 2022). 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.

In 2023, the country’s most immediate challenge will be to navigate the volatile international context, facing steep challenges against a backdrop of the persistent health and economic overhang of a global pandemic and a war in Europe, a cost-of-living crisis caused by persistent and broadening inflation pressures, and the slowdown in China.

Main Indicators 20222023 (E)2024 (E)2025 (E)2026 (E)
GDP (billions USD) 466.79497.35520.97547.32573.15
GDP (Constant Prices, Annual % Change)
GDP per Capita (USD) 82,80887,88491,72895,92399,984
General Government Balance (in % of GDP) -
General Government Gross Debt (in % of GDP) 167.5167.9168.3168.8169.3
Inflation Rate (%) n/a5.
Unemployment Rate (% of the Labour Force)
Current Account (billions USD) 90.2482.5679.2079.9280.03
Current Account (in % of GDP) 19.316.615.214.614.0

Source: IMF – World Economic Outlook Database, 2016

Note: (e) Estimated Data

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

Source: World Bank, 2015


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Latest Update: December 2023