PM Lee Hsien Loong's pre-recorded remarks at the 16th Pacific Alliance Summit, which took place in Bahía Málaga, Colombia on 26 January 2022.
Thank you for inviting me to the Pacific Alliance (PA) Summit again. I extend warmest greetings from Singapore. To President Duque, President Piñera, President Obrador, and President Castillo. I look forward to meeting all of you in person soon.
I am delighted that we are signing the Pacific Alliance-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (PASFTA) and Joint Declaration today.
This is a landmark moment in Singapore’s partnership with the Pacific Alliance. Singapore is honoured to be the first Associate State of the Pacific Alliance, and the PASFTA will institutionalise and strengthen the economic links between our countries. It should deepen cooperation with the Pacific Alliance in areas of common interests and foster closer ties between us. We look forward to working with the Pacific Alliance to enhance our roles as nodes in our respective regions, to encourage greater interactions and collaborations.
Most people think of Latin America and Asia as two regions separated by vast physical distance, as well as language and cultural differences. However, our two regions are in fact more connected than people imagine. Trade and commerce links were established as early as the 16th century. The Manila Galleon, the first shipping service between the Philippines and Mexico, catalysed a robust exchange of interactions between Latin America and Asia. The trade brought chocolate, sweet potatoes, chili peppers and papayas from Latin America to Asia, and in the other direction introduced porcelain, fabrics, spices and silk from Asia to the Americas.
We continue to keep up these robust economic links today. The Pacific Alliance accounts for one-third of Singapore’s total trade and investment with Latin America and the Caribbean. More than 100 Singapore companies do business in Pacific Alliance countries. They span diverse sectors, including trade, technology and innovation, and infrastructure. Companies like Tee Yih Jia Food Manufacturing and Taiger, have ventured into other Latin American countries using the Pacific Alliance as their base. Some of the largest companies in the Pacific Alliance, such as Ecopetrol, Codelco, Cemex, have established commercial presence in Singapore. We hope that more companies from the Pacific Alliance will follow, and use Singapore as a gateway to uncover markets and seize business opportunities in our region.
Like the galleons that sailed across the Pacific and sustained trade between Asia and Latin America, the PASFTA will propel greater cross-Pacific links and grow our partnership further. The signing of the PASFTA is a strong message of hope and opportunity, as our world continues to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic. It demonstrates our shared commitment to improve the lives of people in both our regions. It generates new opportunities for growth, jobs and prosperity in the post-pandemic global economy. It assures businesses that their forays into our respective markets will be underpinned by a conducive trade architecture. It fosters further cooperation in areas such as e-commerce, customs and trade facilitation, and maritime services.
We hope that the PASFTA will create even more opportunities for deeper economic and people-to-people ties between Latin America and Southeast Asia.
Let us encourage our businesses and our peoples to take advantage of this enhanced relationship to explore opportunities in each other’s regions.
I thank President Duque for the strong leadership in 2021 and thank the other leaders from the Pacific Alliance for your support. Singapore looks forward to working closely with President Obrador and Mexico, as Pro Tempore President in 2022, to sustain this good momentum of relations and to realise the PASFTA’s enormous potential.
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