Singapore's pharmaceuticals business, among the pillars of the city-state's manufacturing sector, is set to return to strength this year as big global drugmakers ramp up output and advanced automation at their production sites across the country.
A recovery from dismal 2017, which marked the sector's worst contraction in two decades, would underpin Singapore's economic growth. Pharmaceuticals is the No.2 contributor to the country's manufacturing output and accounts for 3 percent of its GDP.
The sector will see a "robust" 2018, Singapore's Economic Development Board (EDB) told Reuters.
"The opening of new sites like AbbVie's biologics manufacturing facility and the ramp-up of others including Amgen and Novartis reflect strong fundamentals ... we expect the manufacturing activity to remain robust for 2018," said Ho Weng Si, director of biomedical sciences for EDB.
"Outlook for the industry as a whole remains positive for the next few years," Ho added, citing the pace of new drug approvals by the US Food and Drug Administration that hit a 21-year high in 2017.
Singapore is well placed to benefit from this uptick in approvals as it hosts facilities of eight of the world's top 10 drugmakers - such as Roche, GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer and Sanofi.
Sanofi, which in Singapore mainly produces ingredients for blood-thinning drugs shipped globally, told Reuters it expects production "to be relatively stable to slightly increasing in coming years" as it invests to upgrade capacity.
A quarterly EDB survey of the manufacturing sector shows the pharmaceuticals industry is the most optimistic about production over January-March, with a net weighted balance of 56 percent of firms expecting output to rise from the preceding three months.
EDB's Ho and the survey did not provide a specific forecast.
Data shows pharmaceutical production dropped in January, albeit at a milder pace, and rose 15.2 percent from a year ago in February, bringing gains so far this year to about 7 percent.
Output shrank 15.6 percent in 2017, the largest annual contraction since at least 1993.
Singapore's pharmaceutical output has risen more than three-fold since the start of this century, with the sector generating USD 13 billion worth of products last year.
(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)