Singapore and 12 other countries commit to maintaining global links amid Covid-19 pandemic

Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said the Ministerial Coordination Group reiterated the importance of maintaining global connectivity. PHOTO: VIVIAN BALAKRISHNAN/FACEBOOK

SINGAPORE - Foreign ministers from 13 countries, including Singapore, have committed to maintaining global links such as transport and supply chain connections to minimise disruption and speed up recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

The participating countries issued a declaration to maintain these links on Friday (April 17), and have urged other countries to adopt a similar approach.

In a Facebook post on Saturday, Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said: "We had our most recent teleconference yesterday evening, where we reiterated the importance of maintaining global connectivity such as transport and supply chain links, which will help all our economies recover more quickly when the pandemic eventually subsides."

Singapore is delighted to join the 12 countries in moving forward with the Declaration, he added.

The Ministerial Coordination Group (MCG) on Covid-19 was convened by Canada and includes the likes of Brazil, Germany, Indonesia and Britain.

The informal group looks to bolster international norms and actions to deal with the long-tail effects of Covid-19.

The declaration includes a recognition and commitment to addressing challenges faced by vulnerable countries and groups, including access to medical supplies and personal protective equipment.

The group also highlighted the importance of maintaining the flow of essential goods and supplies and the need to preserve air, land and sea routes to facilitate the return of stranded travellers back home.

The countries said they would work with international partners on several matters, including the continued operation of key travel routes as well as visa and status extensions for those affected by travel restrictions.

They will also continue to pool research and scientific resources and efforts to work towards a Covid-19 vaccine and enhanced testing kits for all countries, the declaration said.

Friday's declaration is the second multi-nation agreement which Singapore is part of. Last month, the Republic joined partners, including Australia and Chile, in pledging to keep trade lines open for land, sea and air freight.

Building on this, Singapore and New Zealand launched a new initiative on Wednesday to keep trade lines in essential goods open amid the coronavirus outbreak, and pledged to remove tariffs and other trade barriers, including export restrictions, on such goods.

Meat, fish, vegetables, fruits and medical instruments such as syringes, catheters and ultrasonic scanning equipment are among products covered under the Singapore-New Zealand trade declaration.

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