MEXICO CITY: The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) - which both Mexico and Singapore are part of - signals to companies that their governments encourage and support their ventures into each other’s countries, said Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Wednesday (Nov 20).
In his address to the Mexican Senate during an official visit to the country, Mr Lee said the world has seen Trans-Pacific trade grow significantly in recent years.
Singapore’s biggest market in the Americas is the US, but it also has substantial trade with Mexico and other Latin American countries.
Mexico’s largest trading partner in Asia is China but other Asian nations also present opportunities for Mexico, noted Mr Lee.
“Mexico and Singapore are both strategically located near the centres of our respective regions. As gateways to the countries around us, we can be pathfinders for trade and commerce," he said.
"A more integrated Asia Pacific, with strong links between the two sides of the Pacific Ocean, gives countries an interest in one another’s economic success.”
Mr Lee highlighted that despite being more than 16,000km apart and separated by the Pacific Ocean, Singaporean and Mexican leaders have made several exchanges in recent years.
President Halimah Yacob - who was then speaker of Parliament - spoke in the Mexican Senate in 2017. Former president Tony Tan also made a state visit to Mexico in 2016.
Both countries speak different languages and have different cultures; yet, relations have grown over the years, said Mr Lee.
“Perhaps one reason for our growing relations is our similar histories and dispositions. We are both former colonies. Singapore was a British settlement, while Mexico was colonised by the Spanish for 300 years.
"Both were also the centres of trade for our respective regions, Asia and the Americas. So our natural instinct is to be outward-looking and to connect with others in the world,” he added.
HOPES FOR FTA WITH PACIFIC ALLIANCE
Mr Lee noted that in a globalised and integrated world, countries cooperate extensively with one another through trade agreements, such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in the Americas and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) between Asean and China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.
He expressed hope that the ongoing negotiations for a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the Pacific Alliance (PA) involving Mexico, Chile, Peru and Colombia - which would make Singapore an Associate State of the PA - would conclude by the end of the year.
“Concluding this FTA will not only help us deepen our relationship with you, it will also enable Mexico and the PA countries to build deeper links with Asia, including Singapore.
"The last round of FTA negotiations in Bogota went well. More than two-thirds of the FTA have now been resolved,” said Mr Lee.
The final round of negotiations will take place in Mexico City next month.
Following his address on Wednesday, Mr Lee met with various senators and attended a lunch held by Mexico’s Foreign Affairs Minister Marcelo Ebrard together with a group of governors from the States of Querétaro, Durango, Guanajuato, Oaxaca, and San Luis Potosí.
The prime minister expressed Singapore’s interest to expand cooperation with their states and welcomed the growing cooperation in the areas of infrastructure, education and master-planning.
Later in the day, he was presented with the Distinguished Guest of the City and Mayor Medal at the city hall by the mayor of Mexico City Claudia Sheinbaum.