How S’pore mitigates the effects of Shanghai port lockdowns

The recent lockdowns of the Shanghai port due to China’s Covid-19 outbreak have caused supply chain disruptions all around the world.

According to South China Morning Post, Shanghai port is facing increasing congestion amid a lack of trucking services and manpower, with imported containers left unattended for as long as 12 days. It was just four and a half days before the lockdown.

Thankfully, in terms of essential food and healthcare items, Singapore will not be significantly affected.

Trade and Industry Minister of State Low Yen Ling explained in Parliament on May 9, 2022: “We also do not expect the lockdowns in the Shanghai port to significantly affect Singapore’s supplies of essential food and healthcare items, as our reliance on China is relatively low and the cities where we import most of our food supplies are not classified as high-risk ones for now.”

That said, she emphasised that the Government will do three things to hedge against supply shocks.

Import diversification

This strategy has been in force for a number of years.

Take for instance, food security. The Singapore Food Agency (SFA) has diversified Singapore’s food import sources from about 140 countries in 2004 to over 170 countries and regions in 2019. According to SFA, 70 per cent of our eggs comes from a single source. Thus, the agency introduced a licensing requirement for egg importers to adopt business continuity plans in Apr 2019. The number of approved countries and farms for eggs has increased by over 50 percent from 47 farms in 7 countries in 2016, to 72 farms in 11 countries in 2019.


Stockpiling also aids in easing supply chain disruptions.

In Mar 2020, then Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing revealed that Singapore has months’ worth of stockpiles at the national level, and has planned for a disruption of supplies from Malaysia over many years.

In addition, stockpiling can help to stabilise prices in times of short-term shortages. According to SFA, it is mandatory for rice importers to hold a two-month stockpile in government warehouses.

Local production

You’ve probably heard about the 30 by 30 goal.

In summary, this goal aims to build up Singapore’s agri-food industry’s capability and capacity to produce 30 per cent of the nation’s nutritional needs locally and sustainably by 2030.

This will decrease our reliance on imports and people in Singapore can enjoy fresher produce that generate less carbon footprint due to the fact that the farms are just located locally.

How the Government is helping to ease cost pressures

With the lockdowns in China and the Ukraine War playing out in tandem, it’s likely that global inflationary pressures will worsen in the near term.

To reassure Singaporeans, Minister of State Low said that the Government will support companies with cashflow needs and render more assistance for lower-income households to cope with higher prices. These measures were announced in Budget 2022.

“As the Minister for Finance mentioned in his Ministerial Statement on 4 April, the Social Service Offices, or SSOs, will provide a minimum duration of six months’ support for all new ComCare Short- to Medium-Term Assistance (SMTA) clients who apply between April and September this year. Households who are already on ComCare SMTA can also have their assistance extended for at least another three months if they require further help. The SSOs will continue to exercise flexibility to provide those in need with financial assistance and support. This includes providing ComCare recipients with more cash assistance during this period to cope with inflationary pressures. We will continue to monitor the situation closely,” she concluded.

Cover photo credit: Shanghai International Port Group