14 May 2020

In early May 2020, Singapore’s Ministry of Trade and Industry (“MTI”) issued three announcements relating to commitments made with other countries in relation to securing supply chains and facilitating cross-border movement amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

This article sets out these three announcements. 

1. Singapore and 10 countries issue joint ministerial statement on supply chain connectivity 

On 3 May 2020, MTI issued a joint ministerial statement (“Statement”) signed by Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Laos, Myanmar, Nauru, New Zealand, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates and Uruguay (“Countries”) affirming their commitment to ensuring supply chain connectivity as part of their collective response to combat the impact of Covid-19. 

The Countries state that they are committed to maintaining open and connected supply chains and that they will work closely to identify and address trade disruptions with ramifications on the flow of necessities. 

The Statement provides that:

  • The Countries recognise that it is in their mutual interest to ensure that trade lines remain open, including via air and sea freight, to facilitate the flow of goods, including essential supplies.
  • The Countries affirm the importance of refraining from the imposition of export controls or tariffs and non-tariff barriers and of removing any existing trade restrictive measures on essential goods, especially medical supplies, at this time.
  • The Countries are committed to working with all like-minded countries to ensure that trade continues to flow unimpeded, and that critical infrastructure such as air and seaports remain open to support the viability and integrity of supply chains globally.

2. Singapore reaffirms commitment to facilitate cross-border flows with Australia, Canada, the Republic of Korea and New Zealand

On 1 May 2020, the Trade Ministers from Singapore, Australia, Canada, Republic of Korea, and New Zealand (“Ministers”) conducted a videoconference where they reaffirmed their countries’ commitment to facilitate cross-border flows and identified concrete actions to help alleviate the impact of Covid-19.

The Ministers endorsed and launched a Joint Ministerial Statement on Action Plans to Facilitate the Flow of Goods and Services as well as the Essential Movement of People, in which the Ministers agreed the following:

  • To expedite customs procedures and refrain from introducing export restrictions on essential items such as food and medical supplies. This will ensure the smooth and timely flow of goods and open supply chains. The Ministers also agreed to ensure the continued operation of logistics networks via air, sea and land freight.
  • To facilitate the resumption of essential cross-border travel, while balancing public health considerations in line with efforts to combat the Covid-19 pandemic. To this end, the Ministers committed to establish guidelines to facilitate the essential movement of people, for purposes such as maintaining global supply chains.
  • To minimise the impact of Covid-19 on trade and investment and facilitate an inclusive and sustainable economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic. Actions to be undertaken include working closely with key multilateral economic institutions like the World Trade Organization (WTO), sharing of best practices, and consulting with the private sector to design and implement business-friendly and creative solutions.

3. Singapore and Japan agree to deepen bilateral cooperation to combat Covid-19 

On 1 May 2020, the MTI and Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry issued a joint statement (“Joint Statement”) agreeing to deepen bilateral economic cooperation amidst the Covid-19 pandemic so as to secure supply chains for essential goods and strengthen economic resilience.

The Joint Statement expresses Singapore and Japan’s commitment to keep markets open and work with like-minded partners to ensure the continued flow of trade across borders. Singapore and Japan will also refrain from imposing export restrictions on essential supplies, such as agricultural food products and medical supplies.

Both nations noted that they could explore facilitating the essential movement of people with mutual assurance, as countries prepare for economic recovery. Singapore and Japan also pledged to step up bilateral cooperation in order to facilitate businesses in the digital economy. Both countries also affirmed the importance of signing the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership in 2020, which will allow businesses to benefit from the enhanced integration of regional trade networks. 

Reference materials 

The press releases for each of the above announcements are available on the MTI website www.mti.gov.sg by clicking on the titles below:

Further information

Allen & Gledhill has a Covid-19 Resource Centre on our website www.allenandgledhill.com that contains knowhow and materials on legal and regulatory aspects of the Covid-19 crisis. 

In addition, we have a cross-disciplinary Covid-19 Legal Task Force consisting of Partners across various practice areas to provide rapid assistance. Should you have any queries, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us at covid19taskforce@allenandgledhill.com.


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