OSAKA • Trade and investment were high on the agenda when Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong met separately with the leaders of Brazil, India and the Netherlands on the sidelines of the Group of 20 (G-20) Leaders' Summit in Osaka yesterday.
Mr Lee met Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte first and both leaders welcomed the ratification of the free trade agreement between the European Union and Singapore in February, adding that they looked forward to it coming into force later this year.
Singapore and the Netherlands are "open and like-minded outward-looking countries which share similar views on the importance of the multilateral trading system", said the Prime Minister's Office in a statement yesterday. Mr Lee last met Mr Rutte at the G-20 Summit in Argentina last year.
Mr Lee then met his Indian counterpart, Mr Narendra Modi, and congratulated him on his re-election last month. Both leaders discussed the excellent state of bilateral relations and cooperation under the India-Singapore Strategic Partnership, particularly in the areas of trade and investment, defence, fintech and innovation.
They also agreed that the conclusion of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership - a 16-member free trade agreement including both Singapore and India - would send a strong signal of their commitment to the multilateral trading system amid growing US-China trade tensions and protectionism around the world.
Finally, when they met, Mr Lee and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro welcomed recent milestones in bilateral relations. These included the launch of negotiations for the free trade agreement between Singapore and Mercosur, the South American customs union, last year, as well as the abolition of visa requirements for diplomatic and official passport holders and the signing of the Avoidance of Double Taxation Agreement (DTA).
Both leaders said they looked forward to the early conclusion of the free trade agreement and the early ratification of the DTA, which will facilitate trade and investment flows between both countries and their regions.
Mercosur comprises Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay, which together represent a collective market of more than 260 million people.
Mr Bolsonaro also welcomed the investments by Singapore companies in Brazil, including in the sectors of oil and gas, infrastructure, real estate, agriculture and transport. Mr Lee, in turn, invited more Brazilian companies to establish their Asian operations in Singapore to tap growth opportunities in the region.