Mexican firms urged to use S'pore as springboard

President Tan at the Altar de la Patria in Mexico City's Chapultepec Park, where he laid a wreath. The monument of six giant columns commemorates the bravery of six Mexican teenage cadets who died in 1847 while protecting Chapultepec Castle against a
President Tan at the Altar de la Patria in Mexico City's Chapultepec Park, where he laid a wreath. The monument of six giant columns commemorates the bravery of six Mexican teenage cadets who died in 1847 while protecting Chapultepec Castle against a United States invasion.ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

Republic is well connected to China, India and S-E Asia, says Lim Hng Kiang

Mexican companies have been encouraged to set up shop in Singapore and use its strategic location as a springboard to other regions in Asia.

"We are well connected to China and India, and also to our immediate neighbours in South-east Asia. From Singapore, you can reach half the world's population within a seven-hour radius," Minister for Trade and Industry (Trade) Lim Hng Kiang said.

Mr Lim, who is in Mexico with 18 Singapore companies on a business mission, was speaking at a Mexico- Singapore Business Forum in Mexico City on Thursday afternoon (yesterday morning Singapore time).

The forum was organised by the Singapore Business Federation (SBF) and the Mexican Business Council for Foreign Trade, Investment and Technology (COMCE).

Mr Lim's Mexican counterpart, Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo, said he hopes to see an increase in bilateral trade, which stood at $4.6 billion last year.

OPPORTUNITIES TO BOOST BILATERAL TRADE

Although trade between Mexico and Singapore has almost doubled from 10 years ago, it is still at a very modest level. And there are opportunities for us to raise the level of trade and investment.

MINISTER FOR TRADE AND INDUSTRY (TRADE) LIM HNG KIANG

Mr Guajardo noted that Mexico is Singapore's second-largest trading partner in Latin America.

But its goods and services make up less than 1 per cent of Singapore's total imports. Likewise, Singapore's exports form no more than 0.5 per cent of Mexico's total imports.

Agreeing, Mr Lim said: "Although trade between Mexico and Singapore has almost doubled from 10 years ago, it is still at a very modest level. And there are opportunities for us to raise the level of trade and investment."

Singapore has begun the effort, he added. About 40 Singapore companies have a presence in Mexico and they come from diverse sectors, including oil and gas, urban infrastructure and tourism.

The business mission is in Mexico in conjunction with the state visit of President Tony Tan Keng Yam. He had lunch with the businessmen after the forum.

Earlier in the day, Dr Tan laid a wreath at the Altar de la Patria in Chapultepec Park.

The monument of six giant columns commemorates the bravery of six Mexican teenage cadets who died in 1847 while protecting Chapultepec Castle against a United States invasion.

Dr Tan's visit will help boost bilateral trade and investment, even as both countries' governments take steps to strengthen economic links.

Trade agency IE Singapore, for instance, signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with its Mexican counterpart, ProMexico, at the forum, committing themselves to finding opportunities to promote trade and investment.

It is scheduled to ink another MOU today with the Secretariat of Economic Development of Mexico City. This pact is to promote collaborations in areas such as urban planning, innovation and research, plus water and waste treatment, the agency said in a statement.

In addition, the SBF renewed at Thursday's forum an MOU with COMCE to promote partnership between Singapore and Mexican companies.

Ms Susan Chong, chief executive of customised packaging company Greenpac and the business mission leader, told reporters that Mexico serves as a base to support the United States market and is a good gateway to Latin America as well.

Greenpac hopes to establish an office in Mexico in two years' time, she added, as most of its customers are based in the US.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 11, 2016, with the headline 'Mexican firms urged to use S'pore as springboard'. Print Edition | Subscribe