Posted at 5:24 PM
U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker introduced Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong of Singapore at an event Monday evening hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the U.S.-ASEAN Business Council. During her remarks, Secretary Pritzker thanked Prime Minister Lee for playing a key leadership role in securing the completion of the Trans Pacific Partnership and highlighted the strategic importance of the U.S.-Singapore relationship.
Secretary Pritzker also announced a newly-signed Memorandum of Understanding between the Department of Commerce and Singapore’s Ministry of Trade to increase trade and collaboration on smart cities and infrastructure. Throughout her remarks, Secretary Pritzker reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to a strong bilateral relationship with Singapore built on close economic, diplomatic, and security cooperation.
Remarks As Prepared for Delivery
It is wonderful to be here with the Chamber of Commerce and the U.S.- ASEAN Business Council. I want to thank Tom [Donohue] and Alex [Feldman] for hosting us this evening.
Ambassador Wagar, Ambassador Mirpuri, ladies and gentlemen, it is my pleasure to introduce tonight’s honored guest, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
From our first meeting two years ago, to the conversation we shared today, it is clear that Prime Minister Lee and I both agree that the U.S.-Singapore economic partnership is indispensable.
Both the Prime Minister and I know that our strong commercial relationships have helped promote security and stability across Southeast Asia, that our deep trade and investment ties have helped deliver prosperity and opportunity to our peoples, and that greater U.S. engagement in Southeast Asia is good for the United States, good for the people of Singapore, and for countries across the entire region.
I am also so pleased to see the Prime Minister’s wife, Madam Ho Ching, here with us tonight. Among other things, Madam Ho is CEO of Temasek and a world-class business leader whom I greatly admire. She also happens to be a fellow Stanford graduate, which does not hurt! Madam Ho, I fondly remember our conversations at APEC nearly three years ago, and it gives me great pleasure to welcome you to Washington.
In recent years, we have celebrated important milestones in the U.S.- Singapore relationship. In 2014, we marked ten years since the completion of the U.S.- Singapore Free Trade Agreement. In 2015, we celebrated the 50th anniversary of Singapore’s independence, and we admired your progress raising, Singapore’s per capita GDP from $516 in 1965 to $52,888 in 2015.
And this year, we are honored to have Prime Minister Lee in Washington to commemorate another milestone: 50 years of U.S.-Singapore diplomatic relations. Tomorrow’s State Dinner is an opportunity to rejoice in our five decades of friendship and reaffirm our shared hopes for a more prosperous future.
As everyone in this room knows, the rebalance to Asia is a cornerstone of the Obama Administration’s foreign policy, and Singapore has been an indispensable partner in the region. We have worked closely together to complete the negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership; promote greater regional integration across ASEAN; combat global climate change; and confront terrorism and violent extremism.
From a purely economic perspective, the importance of the U.S.- Singapore relationship is difficult to overstate. The U.S.-Singapore Free Trade Agreement was our first bilateral trade deal with an Asian nation, and it has been a resounding success for both our countries.
Since the FTA was completed, our total bilateral trade has doubled to $47 billion. Singapore, a nation of around 5.5 million people, is now our 18th largest trading partner. Today, the United States has a $10.4 billion surplus in goods trade with Singapore. And Singapore enjoys the majority of foreign direct investment from the United States into the ASEAN region, with a total investment stock of more than $150 billion.
These investment statistics should come as no surprise. More than 3,700 American companies have operations in Singapore. Many of our businesses opt to make the country their regional headquarters, a testament to their confidence in Singapore as the ideal platform for greater engagement across the Southeast Asia.
Prime Minister Lee knows that high-standard trade agreements like our bilateral FTA promote shared growth, prosperity, peace, and stability. That is why he has been and continues to be a vocal advocate for TPP. Mr. Prime Minister, thank you for your steadfast leadership and support the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
I want you to know that President Obama and this entire Administration remain committed to securing bipartisan congressional approval for this critical trade agreement.
Prime Minister Lee is an outspoken advocate for increased trade, for international cooperation, and for technology as a tool to improve people’s lives. He takes great pride in Singapore’s Smart Nation initiative, which aims to improve national well-being by embracing cutting-edge innovation.
In fact, just moments ago, the Department of Commerce and Singapore’s Ministry of Trade and Industry signed a Memorandum of Understanding to increase trade and collaboration on smart cities and infrastructure. This November, we will feature Singapore at our Smart Cities Conference in Chicago, and we are encouraging U.S. companies to participate in Singapore’s first-ever FinTech Festival.
Today, Singapore has a dynamic, innovative 21st century economy that reflects the energetic and practical leadership style of Prime Minister Lee. Prime Minister Lee understands all the benefits that are possible for our peoples when we work together to create enforceable, mutually beneficial rules for global commerce.
Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in welcoming Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.