The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is set to be a game-changer for trade between Singapore and Mexico, as it will be the first trade agreement linking the two countries, Senior Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Defence Maliki Osman said on Wednesday.
Speaking to reporters after a meeting with Mexican senators, Dr Maliki said that bilateral trade has grown significantly over the years and both countries are eager to enhance cooperation in this area via the TPP.
Trade between Singapore and Mexico doubled over the last 10 years to $4.6 billion last year.
Mexico is Singapore's second- largest trading partner in Latin America, behind Panama.
The meeting was held on the sidelines of President Tony Tan Keng Yam's state visit to Mexico, the first by a Singapore president to a Latin American nation. Dr Tan, who will meet political and business leaders during the five-day trip, visited the Chapultepec Castle on Wednesday.
The former imperial palace and presidential residence is now home to the National History Museum.
Dr Maliki said 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".
Pointing to how Singapore and Mexico see themselves as hubs for each other in their respective regions, Dr Maliki said: "They acknowledge Singapore as a hub to South-east Asia region, and they have offered Mexico as a hub to this region."
He added: "The challenge now is the quick ratification of the TPP to ensure that we can take advantage of what the TPP can offer."
Singapore and Mexico have signed the TPP, along with the 10 other member nations that are part of the pact. But the multilateral trade agreement will come into force only after it has been ratified.
During the meeting, which MPs Tin Pei Ling and Darryl David also attended, both sides discussed ways to deepen cooperation, said Dr Maliki.
Talking about how a senator had expressed interest in exporting food to Singapore, he said Singapore can look to Mexico in diversifying its food sources to ensure food security.
Singapore imports 90 per cent of its food supply, so it is important to build strong relations with different countries and regions, he said.
But he added that Singapore's relationship with Mexico goes beyond the economic, and both sides are also exploring cooperation in areas such as culture and education. "These are important aspects we need to enhance," he said.