Singapore and Argentina will start talks next year on a pact to avoid double taxation, and are looking to conclude negotiations on an in-vestment treaty by the first half of next year.
The timeframe for both agreements was announced yesterday as Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Argentinian President Mauricio Macri renewed their commitment to boost economic ties between their countries.
PM Lee and Mr Macri also agreed to work towards a first round of talks on a free trade agreement between Singapore and South American Customs union Mercosur by the first quarter of next year. Argentina is the incoming chair of the Customs union whose other members are Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay.
Mr Macri hosted breakfast for PM Lee, who is on a four-day working visit to Argentina and will attend the Group of 20 summit in its capital Buenos Aires this weekend.
Singapore and Argentina's economic ties have been growing in recent years, with trade reaching $240 million last year in products such as motor vehicle parts, insecticides and frozen fish. Trade in services, including the transport and finance sectors, exceeded $200 million in 2016, while investment between the two countries reached almost $600 million by end-2016.
When the two agreements are finalised, they will boost investor confidence and facilitate greater trade and investment flows, said a statement from the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) yesterday.
Economic ties between Singapore and Mercosur have been growing, particularly with the official launch of negotiations of their free trade agreement in July this year.
The collective South American market is home to 295 million people with a combined gross domestic product of US$2.9 trillion (S$4 trillion).
Singapore's total trade in goods with the Mercosur countries totalled $3.97 billion last year, while trade in services hit $2.69 billion in 2016, the Trade and Industry Ministry said in July this year.
Both leaders welcomed the strengthening of their diplomatic ties since Mr Macri took office in 2015, noting the reopening of the Argentinian Embassy in Singapore in September last year, and agreed to continue regular high-level political dialogue and more frequent and active exchanges.
They also agreed on the importance of enhancing air connectivity between Singapore and Argentina to boost business and people-to-people linkages, said the PMO statement, adding that they welcomed the expansion of the bilateral air services agreement in August this year.
PM Lee thanked Mr Macri for inviting Singapore to the G-20 Leaders' Summit and congratulated him on Argentina's successful G-20 presidency this year.
He reaffirmed Singapore's commitment to work with Argentina and other G-20 members to promote the deepening of cooperation in such areas as the future of work, infrastructure and trade.
PM Lee said in a Facebook post soon after his arrival on Wednesday: "Happy to accept the invitation by Presidente Mauricio Macri for my first working visit here, where I will also participate in G-20 Argentina. This year's summit will be an important one, especially with changes in the global landscape."
PM Lee has invited Mr Macri to visit Singapore next year.
Later in the day, PM Lee was scheduled to meet the Argentinian Senate's current president Federico Pinedo, Buenos Aires Senator Esteban Bullrich, and the city's Mayor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta.
The PMO said that at these meetings, both sides were expected to discuss avenues to expand cooperation between Singapore and Argentina's key provinces, as well as the city of Buenos Aires.