SINGAPORE - There is growing potential for Singapore and Argentina to collaborate in the areas of food and technology, said Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing on Wednesday (Aug 1).
He was speaking at the Argentina-Singapore business forum held at the Enterprise Singapore premises in Bugis.
The forum was held to promote business opportunities between Argentinian and Singapore companies. It was hosted by the Embassy of the Argentine Republic and Enterprise Singapore.
Around 80 participants, such as government officials from both countries, enterprise representatives and members of the diplomatic corps based in Singapore, were present.
Economic relations between Singapore and Argentina have been growing in recent years, Mr Chan said.
Last year, bilateral trade between the two countries amounted to $240 million in products such as motor vehicle parts, insecticides and frozen fish.
Trade in services in areas such as transport, finance and trade is also increasing, Mr Chan added. Such trade amounted to more than $200 million in 2016.
The total stock of investment in bilateral investment flows amounted to nearly $600 million by the end of 2016 as well.
But there can be greater economic collaboration, especially in the area of food trade, Mr Chan said.
"Argentina is one of the world's leading exporters of meat, in particular beef, and fresh produce and seafood. Singaporeans love to eat... and we are always on the lookout for new and high-quality food and food products," he added.
Singapore can also help Argentina to connect with other countries in Asia, besides being a market for products, Mr Chan said.
Beyond food, there are opportunities for partnership with Argentina in the area of technology.
Mr Chan said: "Argentina is emerging as a key global technology hub and source of exciting technology solutions. Argentina is home to four of Latin America's six 'unicorns' - technology start-ups valued at more than US$1 billion (S$1.36 billion)."
These include MercadoLibre, the region's most visited e-commerce website, and Despegar, Latin America's largest online travel agent.
Singapore firms have already made strategic investments in Argentina.
For the past decade, the Exolgan Container Terminal in Buenos Aires has been operated by PSA International.
Olam International, an agriculture firm with its headquarters in Singapore, has also expanded in Argentina, from peanut supply chains to soya, corn, beans and rice.
Last week, the Government launched negotiations for a Mercosur-Singapore free trade agreement, to offer Singapore and South America greater access to each other's markets.
Mercosur is a South American customs union that is made up of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay.
Mr Chan said: "I encourage (Singapore companies) to work closely with Enterprise Singapore... as you explore business opportunities overseas, including the South American market."
Later this month, Enterprise Singapore will be mounting a food sourcing mission to Argentina. The agency will also be facilitating incoming visits by Argentinian food and wine producers.
Argentina's Minister of Foreign Affairs and Worship, Mr Jorge Faurie, said that Singapore-Argentina relations have been fruitful and friendly over the past 40 or so years, but in recent years, should be promoted and grown even further.
He added that Argentina can use Singapore to reach other markets in South-east Asia.