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China's Economy: Discuss the implications of a revaluation of the Chinese yuan on Singapore’s economy. [25]


In recent years, economists worldwide argued that China should revalue her yuan, or shift away from her dollar peg, because her yuan (RMB) has been viewed as undervalued. (Year 2010-2012).

Discuss the implications of a revaluation of the Chinese yuan (RMB) on Singapore’s economy. [25]

Introduction

The Chinese yuan (reminbi, RMB) has long faced revaluation pressures with China’s mounting trade surpluses and developed countries’ claims of China dumping cheap goods on their markets, flooding their economies with low-priced goods “Made in China”. 

This paper argues that, as an increasingly dominant trading partner for Singapore, if China were to revalue the yuan, it would have a huge impact on Singapore’s economy. Revaluation, an increase in the value of the Chinese yuan, will impact the Singapore economy through imports from China, exports to China, and the concomitant effects on the balance of payments, and may thus impact Singapore’s economic growth and national income.

Imports: Imported Inflation

First and foremost, Singapore imports a large variety of goods from China, as Singapore relies on many Chinese intermediate goods as inputs for production of exports for her export sectors. As these are inputs or necessities needed in Singapore, the demand for these goods is relatively price inelastic, and thus the revaluation of the yuan, which makes Singapore’s imports from China more expensive, would likely raise Singapore’s import expenditure. 

Most importantly, because Singapore relies on Chinese inputs for production of both exports and also domestically consumed goods, a revaluation of the yuan would result in imported inflation in Singapore, as the prices of domestic goods will rise to account for the rising costs of production due to the increased costs of raw materials in terms of Singapore Dollars. 

Inflation is defined as a persistent and sustained increase in the general price level, and can be divided into demand-pull and cost-push inflation. In this case, cost-push inflation in terms of imported inflation would result from a revaluation of the yuan.

Exports: Earning?

However, on the other hand, Singapore’s exports to China would increase due to a revaluation of the yuan, ceteris paribus. A revaluation of the yuan, without any corresponding rise in the value of the Singapore dollar to offset the relative effect, would result in Singapore’s exports to China appearing cheaper in yuan. With the growing middle class in China and their rising disposable income, consumption of imports is rising in China, and Singapore can benefit from this boom. 

Yet, it has to be argued that the problem is that Singapore depends heavily on imported inputs, being a small and open economy, and as such it is likely that the increased exports to China would be less than the increased costs of imports, which are often needed to produce output in Singapore. This results in a catch-22, because the inflation from the imported inputs, which makes Singapore’s exports more expensive, would counter the relative price effects of the revalued yuan.    

Balance of Payments: Trade Deficit?

Therefore, the revaluation of the yuan would worsen Singapore’s balance of payments, possibly causing a growing trade deficit with China, thus hampering the Singapore government’s goal of a healthy balance of payments surplus. 

The balance of payments refers to the accounting record of all monetary transactions between a country and the rest of the world, and can be classified into the different components of the current account, capital account, financial account, and (statistical) balancing item. There could be a trade deficit for Singapore if (X-M) falls.

Damage to Singapore’s National Income and Growth

Furthermore, as China is one of Singapore’s emerging exporting market and increasingly important trade partner, given Singapore’s economy as one being driven by trade, the revaluation of the yuan can affect Singapore’s national income adversely. Economic growth can be thought of as increases in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of a country, and can be classified into potential and actual growth. 

First, potential growth could be hampered due to the rising input costs from goods we buy from China from Singapore’s perspective. Although potentially Singapore’s actual growth might improve if AD goes up due to rising X, this could be offset by long term damage to our potential growth. 

Furthermore, if Singapore’s exports are affected because unit costs have risen due to imported inflation because Singapore uses foreign inputs to produce exports, as argued earlier, then X might fall in the long run, and also cause actual growth to slow down. Hence, potentially a rise in the yuan could potentially and possibly lead to both lack of potential and actual growth for Singapore’s economy. Thus, while export revenue might increase in the short term, as Singapore is small and open, the higher costs of imported inputs from China would have detrimental effects and as such, the revaluation of the yuan has largely negative implications on Singapore’s BOP.

Policies and Conclusions

Since the export sector of (X-M) takes up a huge proportion of Singapore’s national income because Singapore is a open and small economy, falling net export revenue from China can potentially reduce Singapore’s rate of growth by shifting her AD to the left, unless this is cushioned by rising export revenues with other trading partners, like the USA and the European Union. 

However, that seems unlikely in the intermediate term given the global financial crisis and recent Eurozone crises and the concomitant recessions worldwide. Fortunately, as long as the Monetary Authority of Singapore allows an appreciation of SGD, ahead of the revalued yuan, the adverse impact of the revaluation on Singapore’s economy would likely be minimal. Singapore pursues an exchange rate policy using a managed float exchange rate system in place of a “standard monetary policy”. A strong Singapore Dollar keeps imported inflation low by maintaining the low cost of her imports. 

In conclusion, the implications of a revaluation of the yuan on the Singapore economy are most likely negative overall, but Singapore has the appropriate policy tools in exchange rates and monetary policy to manage and mitigate these impacts and will use them if need be. Hence, to a large extent, the discretionary powers of the MAS would be useful in mitigating the effects of a revaluation in the yuan. 

Junior College Economics Essay: Tutor's Comments - This Economics paper was written and contributed by a Chinese student from China. This Economics essay has to be praised: first of all, it was composed and written under H2 JC Economics examination conditions; second of all, the language is good, refined, and proper; third, the content knowledge is there, and there is wide understanding of both the Singapore and the Chinese economies. There is good application of economics knowledge and concepts, and there are also empirical evidence and current affairs discussions. As an Economics tutor, this is one of the best Economics exam pieces that I have seen by a Chinese student, and it goes to show that when students work hard, study hard, and try their best, they can achieve, grow, learn, and develop rapidly. If they want to, they can put their heart into learning and studying Economics. As usual, do think of how you can improve upon this work and how you would approach this essay. Maybe, try to write out the answer without referring to this sterling Economics essay? It has also to be admitted that this Economics paper is (of course) not perfect: What other economics concepts, theories, and knowledge could you bring in to make the discussion richer? Thanks for reading and cheers. 

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