New Zealand and Singapore have committed to keeping supply chains open and removing any restrictions on essential goods like medical supplies.

The two countries made the joint commitment today in response to the Covid-19 threat.

"This is an important collective response, and will help ensure New Zealand and Singapore can access the important goods and medical supplies we need in this time of global crisis," Trade Minister David Parker said.

"It's in our mutual interest to ensure trade lines remain open, including via air and sea freight, to facilitate the flow of goods including essential supplies."

Coronavirus: 11 new coronavirus cases in NZ, taking total to 39
Coronavirus: London, UK in lockdown, NZ venues shut as global deaths pass 10,000
Coronavirus: Jenene Crossan's scare - 'It's not a top 40 list I wanted to be on'
'There will be more': Reaction to first confirmed Rotorua coronavirus case

In a joint statement, Parker and the Singapore Minister of Trade and Industry said: "The Covid-19 pandemic is a serious global crisis. As part of our collective response to combat Covid-19, Singapore and New Zealand are committed to maintaining open and connected supply chains.

"We will also work closely to identify and address trade disruptions with ramifications on the flow of necessities."

The two ministers said it was in their mutual interest to ensure trade lines remained open.

"We affirm the importance of refraining from the imposition of export controls or tariffs and non-tariff barriers, and to remove any existing trade restrictive measures on essential goods, especially medical supplies at this time."

Two-way trade between the two countries is worth $3.3 billion a year; dairy and oil are New Zealand's biggest exports to the South-East Asian country.

New Zealand's bulk-buying medical agency Pharmac has previously warned that disruption to the supply of some medicines is likely amid the global pandemic.


"Quarantines may slow or halt activities in manufacturing plants or they may impact transportation and ports," Pharmac's director of operations Lisa Williams said.

India, the world's main supplier of generic drugs, has restricted the export of 26 pharmaceutical ingredients and the medicines made from them, including Paracetamol.