PM to talk trade, Ukraine war, regional pressures in Singapore

The Prime Minister's first overseas trip since Covid hit will see her talk trade, the war in Ukraine and pressures on the Asia-Pacific region with Singapore PM Lee Hsien Loong.

Jacinda Ardern.

Jacinda Ardern touched down in Singapore Monday, expecting to pick up the relationship in person with Lee, which she has described as "the kind of relationship where we check in frequently to share ideas".

"Prime Minister Lee is someone who at any point we can reach out and pick up the phone," she said.

Ahead of talks, Ardern said top of the list would be New Zealand's trade relationship with Singapore.

"As our fifth biggest export partner... this is a very important region for us economically, 20% of our exports come this hub within South East Asia. That will be a big part of our discussions."

"Also, just the environment that we find ourselves in - the war in Ukraine, the continuing geostrategic pressures in our regions, Singapore is an important partner for us. We're like minded on many issues so I imagine those will be top of mind."

Ardern was asked if she expected to discuss China and its relationship with Russia with Lee.

"We are living in an increasingly complex part of the world and have been for some time," Ardern said.

"We are also seeing globally that there is pressure on our rules based order. It has been threatened and disrupted and upended by the actions of Russia."

Ardern said there should be continued dialogue "to ensure we don't see escalation in our part of the world, militarisation in our part of the world, that we respect one another's sovereignty and territory and take a very strong stand where we see others in breach of those principles".