'New things happening in new parts of the world and we need to be part of that story': PM Lee
MEXICO CITY: Singapore should not miss out on business opportunities in promising markets in North, South and Central America, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Wednesday (Nov 20) as he wrapped up his four-day official visit to Mexico.
“There are new things happening in new parts of the world and we need to be part of that story,” he told Singapore media.
Mr Lee, who was in Mexico at the invitation of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, brought along a business delegation as part of efforts to develop business interests.
He said Mexico views Singapore as a partner "which is reliable, which has high integrity, which has a good reputation".
Mexico has indicated interest in cooperating on urban planning, infrastructure and logistics, the Prime Minister added, while Singapore is keen to work together on digital government and technology.
Mr Lee said he hoped that while Mexico engages in businesses with bigger countries, it does not miss out on opportunities with smaller ones such as Singapore.
"Mexico does a lot of business with America - in Asia, naturally, China's a big market - but we hope that they also pay attention to ASEAN and to Singapore," Mr Lee said.
"So in a similar way, on the other side, we do business within our region with ASEAN partners, China, India, in the US in the Americas - we do business with the US.
"But at the same time, we do not want to miss out on the other promising markets in North, South and Central America and Mexico is one of them.
"It's not an area which we're very familiar with. It is an area where there are opportunities whenever it's growing."
He said there are opportunities for Singapore to develop in Mexico.
“In the Pacific Alliance countries there’s a certain realisation of the need to work together and to look across the Pacific to Asia," said the Prime Minister.
"Of course, at the same time, we're trying to get a free trade agreement with Mercosur as well, which is Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and a few others."
He noted that Africa was a "very vibrant continent, very diverse".
Added the Prime Minister: "Some countries are complicated to operate in. Other countries are making progress and we are not familiar with them.
"We ought to become more familiar with them, and to participate judiciously and learn about what we can do down there."
When asked about the competitive advantages that Singapore has in a time of growing protectionism and uncertainty in multilateral trade, Mr Lee said Singapore's reputation could help the country reach these markets.
"First we have a very high brand name recognition. It may not have been so 10 or 15 years ago, but now it is so - people know Singapore, they think well of Singapore," the Prime Minister added.
In addition, Singapore’s participation in projects could give other investors the confidence to enter similar markets.
“I think our reputation specifically for integrity, for competence, for seriousness, for purpose, for delivering on what we say we will do … I think that's also something very valuable," he said.
"People believe that we ... achieve high levels of performance of technical competence in Singapore.
"They think that we have the resources and the wherewithal and that we can do it and adapt it to their circumstances. So these are all advantages to us."
When Singapore companies operate overseas they must also deliver, added the Prime Minister.
“You cannot go and ride on the brand name and then if you don't deliver it’s a minus for Singapore, and I think our companies do understand that," he said.