Singapore committed to free trade, says Halimah in Mexico

Madam Halimah Yacob made a speech to Mexico's Senate on Wednesday (April 26).
Madam Halimah Yacob made a speech to Mexico's Senate on Wednesday (April 26).PHOTO: ST FILE

Singapore's Speaker of Parliament Halimah Yacob has reiterated the need to stay open to the world and build alliances to free up trade amid the rise in anti-trade sentiment.

Global upheavals last year have upended previous norms and are challenging countries to think of new ways of moving forward, she noted.

"However, our basic principles should remain the same," she said in a speech to Mexico's Senate on Wednesday. "In order for everyone to prosper, we need to remain open, transparent and with clear international rules guiding us."

Madam Halimah, who is on a visit to Mexico, said that as a small, trade-dependent city state, Singapore cannot embrace protectionism as an option. This is why amid the rise of anti-trade sentiment globally, the country will continue to stay the course, remaining open and connected to the global economy, and reaching out and building ties.

Singapore's Parliament has, over the years, endorsed the Government's efforts to build up the country's connectivity, and maintain an efficient and stable pro-business environment, she noted.

And Singapore still believes in the value of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade pact, which both Singapore and Mexico have signed.

"The US' withdrawal from the TPP was a setback for the global trade liberalising agenda, but it need not be the ultimate outcome," she said. In the past few months, the 11 TPP partners have been looking at options ahead, and "we need to explore creative ways to harvest the TPP's benefits in a timely manner".

She outlined Singapore's role in other regional integration initiatives like the Asean Economic Community, and noted Mexico's role as founding member of the Pacific Alliance, which represents a market of about 218 million people. Singapore is committed to being a useful partner of the alliance, where it has observer status since 2014, she added.

Madam Halimah is accompanied on her visit by MPs Vikram Nair, Ang Wei Neng and Cheryl Chan.

On Wednesday, she called on Senate President Pablo Escudero Morales.

Nur Asyiqin Mohamad Salleh

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 28, 2017, with the headline 'S'pore committed to free trade, says Halimah in Mexico'. Print Edition | Subscribe