As the only two advanced small nations in the Asia-Pacific, there has always been strong economic complementarity between New Zealand and Singapore. Their ties also encompass defence, cyber security, education and tourism. New Zealand pilots were involved in the defence of Singapore during World War II and, until 1989, New Zealand, which like Singapore is part of the Five-Power Defence Arrangement, even had an infantry battalion and air units stationed here. It was only fitting, therefore, that the two should have identified another key element of national security - preserving the reliability of supply chains amid the Covid-19 pandemic - and co-launched a new trade initiative for the purpose in March.
The joint ministerial statement by Singapore and New Zealand affirming commitment to ensuring supply chain connectivity amid Covid-19 is gaining traction. Most recently, China has signed on to it, joining Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Laos, Myanmar, Nauru, the United Arab Emirates and Uruguay. It commits to working with like-minded countries to ensure unimpeded trade flows and to keep critical infrastructure such as airports and seaports open to support the integrity of these linkages. While this is a broad statement of intent, Singapore and New Zealand put more meat on the bone by separately signing the new Declaration of Trade in Essential Goods for Combating the Covid-19 Pandemic in April.