Singapore—In his recent trip to Mexico, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong hailed the growing relations between the two countries, noting that Singapore and Mexico have similar “histories and dispositions,” and saying that this is one of the reasons for the stronger ties.
Addressing Mexico’s Senate on Tuesday, November 19, he said, of Mexico and Singapore,
“We are both former colonies. Singapore was a British settlement, while Mexico was colonised by the Spanish for 300 years. Both were the centres of trade for our respective regions, Asia and the Americas. So our natural instinct is to be outward-looking and to connect to others in the world.”
He added that Mexico’s part in the trade between Acapulco and Manila, Philippines, what he called a” highly profitable venture” that made “fortunes on both sides of the Pacific,” could have been “the first era of globalisation.”
PM Lee added that money from Mexico had “played a small but significant role in Singapore’s own history,” since two hundred years ago, Sir Stamford Raffles, paid the Sultan of Johor in Spanish dollars, which had been made of silver from Mexico.
“Spanish dollars circulated widely in our part of the world as a customary currency, and was one of the world’s first globalised currencies,” the Prime Minister said.
PM Lee also highlighted the similarity of Mexico and Singapore in how both countries are both “strategically located near the centres of our respective regions” which make them not only “gateways to the countries around us,” but also “we can be pathfinders for trade and commerce.”
This, he said, is mutually beneficial.
“A more integrated Asia Pacific, with strong links between the two sides of the Pacific Ocean, gives countries an interest in each other’s economic success. This fosters peace and prosperity, and benefits all countries.”
The Prime Minister went on to say that a business delegation had accompanied him on this trip, since there is at present “significant interest” among companies in Singapore to collaborate with Mexico’s private sector, which include what Mexican President Lopes Obrador has called “artisanal microbusinesses, or small and medium enterprises.”
According to the Prime Minister, the businessmen accompanying him are from “various sectors including infrastructure, logistics, and technology.”
He added that Singapore’s investments in Mexico have been on the increase every year in the last five years, and added, “I am confident that with the CPTPP (Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership) in effect, our economic ties can only grow further.”
He ended his speech by saying that he looked forward to even stronger ties between the two countries.
“Yet there is much more potential waiting to be developed. Beyond an alignment of economic interest, our two countries and our leaders enjoy good relations, because of our compatible outlooks and approaches to the world. In foreign relations, countries cannot choose our neighbours, but we can certainly choose our friends and partners, however far away they may be. And I am happy that despite our geographical separation, Singapore and Mexico have chosen to be friends and partners with each other. Long may our friendship grow and prosper!”