Singapore adds China to 12-country pledge to keep trade open amid virus crisis

SINGAPORE’S biggest trading partner has become the latest country joining a pledge to keep supply chains open during the novel coronavirus pandemic.

China on Thursday became the 12th country to put its name to a joint ministerial statement on trade connectivity that came out of an earlier pact between Singapore and New Zealand.

In the joint statement, the trade ministers of the participating countries acknowledge that “it is in our mutual interest to ensure that trade lines remain open”.

They also affirm that it is important to avoid export controls or tariffs and non-tariff barriers, and to remove trade restrictions on essential goods - especially medical supplies.

Since Singapore made a bilateral pledge on supply chain connectivity with New Zealand in March, more countries - in the Pacific Rim and beyond - have also committed to its principles.

Countries that have signed on the statement now include Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Laos, Myanmar, Nauru, the United Arab Emirates and Uruguay as well.

Said Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing: “Singapore welcomes other like-minded partners to join our continued efforts to keep trade lines open and refrain from imposing restrictions that hinder trade.”

According to him, the multi-country affirmation “sends a strong signal of our collective commitment to ensure the continuity and inter-connectivity of supply chains” in the pandemic.

Singapore’s Ministry of Trade and Industry also called trade partners’ participation in the statement “a positive affirmation of the importance for countries to work closely together to identify and address trade disruptions with ramifications on the flow of necessities”.

The Republic’s trade in goods with mainland China - a net importer since 2009 - was worth S$137.3 billion in 2019.