Channel NewsAsia

PM Lee pushes for ratification of Trans-Pacific Partnership

Mr Lee wrapped up his US trip by formally launching the New York office of Temasek Holdings and urging the business community to lobby for support for the TPP.

NEW YORK: Uncertainty in the United States Congress over the outlook for the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) may make it tougher to finalise terms for the agreement, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Thursday (June 26).

Mr Lee was speaking in New York, where he wrapped up a visit to the United States by formally launching the New York office of Temasek Holdings and urging the business community to lobby Congress in support of the TPP.

After spending four days in Washington, DC, which included meetings with US President Barack Obama and Vice-President Joe Biden, Mr Lee said he is convinced the US is committed to the TPP as the next stage of its deepening involvement with Asia. But, he warned that with the outlook for ratification by the US Congress opaque, Washington may be signalling weakness to its TPP negotiating partners.

"We need to be able to know that between the Administration and Congress and the American people we can work together to deliver the ratification,” Mr Lee said, adding that Mr Obama said the TPP should be finalised before the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) conference in Beijing this November.

The Prime Minister also said he hoped that in expressing his firm commitment to the TPP, he has given wavering members of the US Congress “food for thought”. He urged the New York business community to lobby Congress, conceding there are minds there still to be won over.

In New York, Mr Lee also spoke about the threat the conflicts in Iraq and Syria pose to minds closer to home. He expressed anxiety about attempts by ISIS militants in Iraq to recruit fighters for their cause from South-east Asia.

"This is a very violent environment – people are fighting, killing one another, bombing, committing suicide bombings, and if people go there and fight and after they come back, some will come back, what happens?  They may bring back the ideas, the passions, the skills, maybe the equipment. That's big trouble,” he said.

Tweet photos, videos and updates on this story to  @channelnewsasia