TPP game-changer for Singapore and Mexico, says Maliki

Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Defence Maliki Osman and Mexican senator Gabriella Cuevas Barron exchanging gifts on June 8, 2016. ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

MEXICO CITY - The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is set to be a game-changer for Singapore and Mexico, with bilateral trade between both countries having increased significantly in the last ten years, said Senior Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Defence Maliki Osman on Wednesday.

He added that the multi-lateral agreement will be the first trade pact linking Singapore and Mexico.

"The challenge now is quick ratification of the TPP to ensure that we can take advantage of what (it) offers," he said after a meeting with Mexican parliamentarians at the sidelines of President Tony Tan Keng Yam's state visit to the Latin American nation.

The TPP is a free-trade deal involving 12 nations, including Singapore, Mexico, the United States, Vietnam and Japan. All member nations have signed it, but the deal will only come into force after it is ratified.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, which MPs Tin Pei Ling and Darryl David also attended, Dr Maliki said both sides also discussed ways to enhance economic cooperation.

He said: "We both see ourselves as hubs to each other's region. They acknowledge Singapore as a hub to South-east Asia and they offer Mexico as a hub to this region."

He added that the state visit marks a new milestone in bilateral relations, and is a "good opportunity for us to show that Mexico is important to us. We can work towards that to enhance the value of the TPP. "

On Wednesday, Dr Maliki also opened the inaugural Singapore Film Festival held at the Cineteca Nacional.

The five-day event kicked off with a private screening of 7 Letters, an anthology by seven Singapore film-makers celebrating the country's golden jubilee last year.

Dr Maliki said the festival, jointly organised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Media Development Authority, and the Cineteca Nacional, is an important platform for cultural exchange.

Likening bilateral relations to a flower, Dr Maliki said the political and economic links between two countries will plant the seeds of the relationship, but it is cultural interactions that will help the flower bloom.

"Through film, we experience each other's culture and form connections with one another. We see and hear each other's stories and celebrate them together," he said.

The films, which also include Anthony Chen's Ilo Ilo, Royston Tan's 881, and Eric Khoo's 12 Storeys, will give Mexican audiences a glimpse of what life in the Singapore heartlands is like, he added.

"Singaporean English, or Singlish, is very much part of the heartland culture and you will hear this in the films screened in the festival," he said.

Film-maker Royston Tan, who was also at the film festival, said: "A lot of Mexican film-makers have never heard of Singapore cinema before. They are very curious about the multi-cultural aspect of Singapore, and how we fuse that into our films."

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