On 1 May 2020, the Trade Ministers of Singapore, Australia, Canada, South Korea, and New Zealand held a video conference session, followed by the Joint Ministerial Statement on Action Plans to Facilitate the Flow of Goods and Services as well as the Essential Movement of People. The ministers also identified concrete actions to help lessen the impact of COVID-19 among the five countries.
Under this Joint Statement, the Ministers agreed to the following:
- Expedite customs procedures and refrain from introducing export restrictions on essential items such as food and medical supplies. The Ministers also agreed to ensure the continued operation of logistics networks via air, sea, and land freight.
- Facilitate the resumption of essential cross-border travel, while balancing public health considerations in line with efforts to combat the COVID19 pandemic. To this end, the Ministers committed to establishing guidelines to facilitate the essential movement of people, for purposes such as maintaining global supply chains.
- Minimize the impact of COVID-19 on trade and investment and facilitate an inclusive and sustainable economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. This would 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.
Singapore’s Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing said, “These initiatives will not only help us overcome the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, but also position us well for a swift recovery once the situation stabilizes.”
(Sources: Ministry of Trade and Industry, South China Morning Post)