Monday, 13 June 2016

Singapore, Mexico sign MOUs to boost ties

Both sides agree to seize opportunities to deepen links
By Pearl Lee, In Mexico City, The Sunday Times, 12 Jun 2016

Visiting Singapore President Tony Tan Keng Yam and his Mexican counterpart Enrique Pena Nieto witnessed the signing of agreements here designed to boost links between the two countries that established diplomatic relations just over 40 years ago.

During their meeting at the Palacio Nacional and a state lunch afterwards, Dr Tan noted that reforms by Mr Pena Nieto's administration, including to strengthen Mexico's economy, competitiveness and institutions, will provide more opportunities for investment, trade and cooperation between the two countries.

Both leaders noted the progress made in the bilateral relationship and agreed on the value of seizing opportunities to strengthen and deepen this partnership.

Dr Tan, the first Singapore President to make a state visit to a Latin American country, received a ceremonial welcome at the national palace in the historic centre of the city.

Mr Pena Nieto, speaking here on Friday afternoon - early Saturday morning in Singapore - said few economies had achieved development as successfully and rapidly as Singapore. He noted that both sides agreed to deepen ties, "expand our relationship on the basis of our competitive advantages and strengths", and promote links between their respective regions.

Their meeting came on the fourth day of Dr Tan's trip to Mexico. He arrived here on Tuesday evening and he and the accompanying Singapore delegation had meetings with officials and businesses and attended events, including launching the inaugural Singapore Film Festival in Mexico.

Ahead of the state luncheon on Friday, both leaders discussed issues ranging from developments in Singapore and Mexico to the progress in bilateral relations, and presided over the signing of three Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs).

The MOU between the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority and Mexico's Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food "will pave the way for enhanced cooperation in areas including agriculture science and technology, food security, and food safety," Dr Tan noted.

Another agreement between Singapore's and Mexico's Ministry of Foreign Affairs will see both sides collaborate in training and technical assistance for developing countries, particularly in Latin America, in areas such as urban development and water management.

The third MOU, on education, encourages both countries to exchange information on education as well as academic staff, including with Singapore's teacher training institute, the National Institute of Education.

Three more MOUs were signed earlier in the week, including by the Singapore Business Federation and trade agency International Enterprise Singapore with their Mexican counterparts. The agreements promote trade and investment at the private and public levels.

Both Dr Tan and Mr Pena Nieto also spoke at the lunch about the importance of the Trans- Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the enhanced opportunities it will provide.

Singapore and Mexico are among 12 Pacific Rim nations that signed the TPP, a multilateral trade agreement. It will come into force only after it has been ratified.

Dr Tan later met Dr Miguel Angel Mancera, head of government of Mexico City, at the Antiguo Palacio del Ayuntamiento, or City Hall, where he received the Key to Mexico City. Dr Tan is scheduled to leave Mexico for Singapore this morning (Singapore time).

Singapore and Mexico 'can build on strong ties'
Both countries can help their two regions grow closer, says President Tan
By Pearl Lee, In Mexico City, The Straits Times, 13 Jun 2016

The strong bilateral relationship between Singapore and Mexico can be the foundation for both countries to strengthen their partnership on several levels, said President Tony Tan Keng Yam on Saturday (yesterday, Singapore time) as he wrapped up his five-day state visit to the Latin American country.

On the broadest level, both countries can contribute to boosting relations between the two big regions they are in, he said.

Dr Tan said Mexico is a good gateway for Singapore to grow its presence in Latin America, while Singapore is a springboard for Mexico to enter Asia.

As both countries belong to regional alliances - Singapore is part of Asean while Mexico is a member of the four-country Pacific Alliance - strong ties between both sides will help strengthen relations between the two groupings that account for 800 million people, he said.

But most crucial of all is the bilateral relationship between Singapore and Mexico, said Dr Tan, adding that the memorandums of understanding (MOU) signed during this visit will boost partnership.

A total of six MOUs, most at the government level aimed at promoting trade and investment, were signed during his visit.

"The MOUs will set the stage for these developments, but it doesn't mean they will come automatically. We will have to build on them," he said.

He noted that his state visit has raised the visibility of Singapore in Mexico, but Singapore ministries, agencies and businesses will have to actively seek out opportunities.

There are now 41 Singapore firms operating in Mexico, and 81 Mexican firms operating in Singapore.

Dr Tan said the energy and economic reforms of Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto's administration could change that. When implemented, these reforms will "make Mexico more open, comprehensive, attractive to companies and more international", he said.

He also pledged Singapore's help for Mexican companies to expand in Asia.

"We want to encourage more Mexican companies to come to Singapore... I think it's a two-way street," he said.

He added that with Mexico opening up, there will be more opportunities for Singapore. For instance, Mexico is looking to develop its port and airport, areas in which Singapore has expertise.

During the trip, Dr Tan and Mr Pena Nieto also discussed the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which Singapore and Mexico are members of. When ratified, it will help to boost trade between both countries.

Dr Tan, who visited several museums including the National History Museum during his trip, said he also hoped to encourage more cultural exchanges between both countries.

He said, for instance, that Singapore's budding film industry can learn from Mexico's film industry, citing how Mexican films have an international presence.

He added that Singaporeans are also learning Spanish.

"I hope more Singapore students will come to Mexico," he said.

Dr Tan, who met Mr Pena Nieto on Thursday, has invited him to visit Singapore. The Mexican President's visit would go some way in strengthening Mexico's presence in the city-state and raise awareness of the country among Singaporeans, he added.

Dr Tan left Mexico for Singapore on Saturday evening (yesterday morning, Singapore time).

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