Coronavirus: Singapore working with 6 other countries to maintain supply of essential goods

SINGAPORE – Singapore will work closely with six other countries to identify and address trade disruptions by the coronavirus pandemic that could affect the flow of essential goods.

In a joint ministerial statement issued on Wednesday (March 25) the countries – including Australia, Canada, Chile, New Zealand, Myanmar and Brunei – said they will ensure that trade lines remain open, including via air and sea freight, to facilitate the flow of goods including essential supplies.

Freight carriers around the world are struggling to deliver goods by land, sea or air as the pandemic has forced governments to impose lockdowns, threatening supplies of vital products including medicines.

“We are committed to working with all like-minded countries to ensure that trade continues to flow unimpeded, and that critical infrastructure such as our air and seaports remain open to support the viability and integrity of supply chains globally,” said the joint statement issued by Singapore’s Ministry of Trade and Industry.

The countries said they will refrain from imposing export controls or tariffs and non-tariff barriers.

They will also remove any existing trade restrictive measures on essential goods, especially medical supplies, at this time.

While China’s extreme measures to stop the spread of the virus are now allowing its economy slowly to come back online, supply chains are disintegrating in other parts of the world.Problems ranging from finding enough truck drivers to restrictions on seafarers and a lack of air freight are hitting the smooth flow of goods.

Travel restrictions, border closures, air travel cancellations and ports quarantining ships for 14 days or more are now commonplace.

Border controls have slowed down traffic or forced re-routing of good, pushing up freight costs of even necessary supplies such as food and medicine.

Stockpiling and panic buying by consumers are also adding to supply strains.

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