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Singapore, Portugal must continue to push for free trade, open markets

Singapore and Portugal must continue to push for free trade and open markets, said President Tony Tan Keng Yam as he wrapped up his two-day state visit to Portugal.

LISBON: Singapore and Portugal must continue to push for free trade and open markets, said President Tony Tan Keng Yam as he wrapped up his two-day state visit to Portugal.

President Tan also thanked Portugal for its support for the ratification of the EU-Singapore Free Trade Agreement, and said he looks forward to Portugal's support for an ASEAN-EU Comprehensive Air Transport Agreement.

The Portuguese economy returned to growth in 2013 following a two-and-a-half year recession. The country's GDP is also expected to increase 1.2 per cent in 2014.

Taking note of Portugal's productivity growth, President Tan said this is a clear measure of growing competitiveness.

He paid tribute to Portugal's efforts in meeting its economic challenges over the past three years, and also to the Portuguese people, for their resilience in the face of difficult adjustments.

Portugal is Singapore's 22nd largest trading partner in the EU. Trade between the two countries was worth S$192.5 million last year.

In President Tan's meeting with Portugal's Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho, the two leaders discussed ways to enhance economic cooperation.

One example the PM Coelho raised of good cooperation is the container terminal in Sines which is operated by PSA.

And during President Tan's visit, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between PSA and the Ports of Sines and Algarve to support the expansion and development of the Port of Sines.

Once this expansion is complete, it will make the Sines terminal one of the largest employers in the region.

President Tan was also hosted to a State Banquet by President Cavaco Silva during which he emphasized the need for Singapore and Portugal to maintain ties.

President Tan said: "The global economy recovery will present opportunities only if we guard against protectionism. Small countries like Portugal and Singapore need to maintain close links and continue to push for free trade and open markets, and further economic cooperation."

President Tan said he hoped that the business delegation with him on the visit will raise awareness for collaboration and more business tie-ups with Portugal.

His Portuguese counterpart said Portugal and Singapore are in a new chapter in relations.

President Silva said: "It so happens that Portugal and Singapore have only come to rediscover each other in the last few years. Your Excellency’s state visit, for which I once again express my satisfaction, signals the political determination to strengthen the ties of friendship and cooperation that unites us."

During the state banquet, President Tan also gave some history of the people-to-people ties between Singapore and Portugal.

This included the construction of Singapore's national monument, the Church of Saint Joseph, by a Portuguese mission in 1853, and the significant contributions the Portuguese Eurasian community made to Singapore's development.

President Tan added that the Portuguese influence also extends into Singapore's Malay community, with some 400 words in the Malay language being of Portuguese origins.

President Tan heads to Switzerland next for an official visit.

In addition to meetings with Swiss leaders, he will also visit educational and research institutions which have extensive ties with Singapore.

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