1. Allow me to begin by thanking the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for convening this Extraordinary Virtual G20 Agriculture Ministers Meeting.
2.COVID-19 is the gravest health crisis the world has faced in a century. It has claimed and disrupted daily lives and impacted all our economies. The crisis also reminds us how inter-connected we are as a single global community, and the importance of global cooperation and unity.
3. Of particular concern is the potential impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on global food security. Food supply disruptions and shortages pose an immediate danger to the health and well-being of our populations. All around the world, we have seen worried citizens rush to supermarkets for essential food items, no doubt concerned about the availability of food and essential supplies.
4.This global crisis has reminded us of the importance of strengthening food security and resilience. In Singapore, even before COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen the threat of food supply disruptions arising from climate change and resource scarcity. We have been preparing for it. To make our food supply more resilient, we are pursuing three strategies, also known as our three ‘food baskets’: 1) Diversify import sources; 2) Grow local; and 3) Grow overseas. As part of this strategy, Singapore has diversified our food imports to source from over 170 countries and regions. We have built stockpiles of essential food supplies. We have also announced our 30-by-30 goal – to meet 30% of Singapore’s nutritional needs with food produced locally by 2030.
5.In light of current circumstances, we are putting our 30-by-30 goal on a fast track. We have just announced 30x30 Express, to accelerate food production over the next six to 24 months. We will develop an innovative agri-food sector that is highly productive and sustainable. We are also investing in research and development in urban food solutions and alternative proteins.
6.But to effectively strengthen our individual and collective food resilience, we must all work closely together to ensure global food supply chains continue to flow well. It is in the collective interest of the global community to ensure that trade lines remain open, including via air and sea freight, to facilitate the flow of goods and essential supplies, including food.
7.Singapore is committed to play our part to keep trade flows open. Our critical infrastructure such as air and seaports will remain open to support the viability and integrity of food supply chains. This is why Singapore and eight other countries – Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Lao PDR, Myanmar, New Zealand and Uruguay – issued a Joint Ministerial Statement affirming our commitment to ensuring supply chain connectivity amid the COVID-19 situation. We encourage more countries to join us in this endeavour. We also call upon the G20 Agriculture Ministers to affirm the importance of maintaining open and connected supply chains, especially during the global pandemic.
8. In this spirit, I would like to voice Singapore’s support for the G20 Ministerial Statement to be adopted at this meeting.
9.I would like to conclude by echoing the statement of Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the Extraordinary Virtual G20 Leaders Summit on 26 March 2020. As this crisis continues to shed light on our individual vulnerabilities, countries may seek for more safeguards against the risks of globalisation, and to strengthen national capabilities to reduce dependence on others. But we should resist the urge to turn inwards. This pandemic is proof of our interdependence, not an indictment of globalisation. As we meet under these extraordinary circumstances, the G20 Agriculture Ministers have a rare and important opportunity to show leadership and reaffirm your commitment to lead the global effort to overcome the COVID-19 crisis. At such a disruptive and challenging time, we cannot revert to the laws of the jungle world, where the strongest survive, leaving behind the weak and helpless. Multilateralism and global cooperation must prevail over narrow nationalistic, beggar-thy-neighbour approaches. The G20 must work in close collaboration with the UN and its agencies notably WHO, FAO, as well as the WTO, the IMF and the World Bank, and lead the collective response to the global pandemic and resolve problems like the flow of supply chains and food. I look forward to working with all of you to reaffirm our commitment, as one global community, to work together to suppress the COVID-19 virus and address its impacts, including ensuring strong global food supply chains and food security for all.