Argentina’s presidency of the G20, the world’s pre-eminent forum for economic, financial and political cooperation, showed “Our nation is integrated with the international community and has much to offer it… Argentina seeks to play a constructive role in finding solutions to global challenges,” said President Mauricio Macri
ARGENTINA received the distinction of being the first country in South America to host the G20 Meeting. At the invitation of Argentine President Mauricio Macri, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong made a working visit from 28 November to 1 December 2018 for the 13th G20 Leaders’ Summit in Buenos Aires.
On 29 November, Prime Minister Lee was hosted to breakfast by President Macri (pictured above) at the Quinta de Olivos, the official residence of the President. A Singapore Ministry of Foreign Affairs statement on the visit said that Prime Minister Lee welcomed the strengthening of bilateral relations under President Macri’s Administration, which saw the re-opening of the Argentine Embassy in Singapore in September 2017.
Both Leaders agreed to continue regular high-level political dialogue, as well as more frequent and active exchanges to further develop the bilateral relationship. President Macri noted Singapore’s successful Chairmanship of ASEAN in 2018, and thanked Singapore for supporting Argentina’s accession to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia at the 51st ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in August 2018.
Affirming their commitment to boosting economic ties between Singapore and Argentina, Prime Minister Lee and President Macri welcomed the good progress made on Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) negotiations and looked forward to the conclusion of negotiations by the first half of 2019. They also agreed to start negotiations on an Avoidance of Double Taxation Agreement (DTA) in 2019. The finalisation of the BIT and DTA will boost investor confidence and facilitate greater trade and investment flows between Singapore and Argentina.
Both leaders welcomed the progress made towards strengthening economic ties between Singapore and MERCOSUR through the launch of the MERCOSUR-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (MSFTA) on 23 July 2018. The MERCOSUR member states – Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay – make up a market of 295 million people with a combined GDP of US$ 2.9 trillion. The leaders agreed to work towards holding the first round of negotiations by the first quarter of 2019. Prime Minister Lee also expressed Singapore’s support for Argentina’s Pro-Tempore Presidency of MERCOSUR, which will begin in January 2019.
Both Leaders agreed on the importance of enhancing air connectivity between Singapore and Argentina to boost business and people-to-people linkages. In this regard, they welcomed the expansion of the bilateral Air Services Agreement in August 2018.
Prime Minister Lee thanked President Macri for inviting Singapore to the G20 Leaders’ Summit, and congratulated President Macri on Argentina’s successful Presidency of the G20 in 2018. In support of the G20’s mandate to promote “Strong, Sustainable, Balanced and Inclusive Growth”, Prime Minister Lee reaffirmed Singapore’s commitment to work with Argentina and other G20 members to promote the deepening of cooperation in areas such as the Future of Work, infrastructure, and trade.
Prime Minister Lee expressed gratitude for the warm hospitality extended to him and his delegation, and reiterated his invitation for President Macri to visit Singapore in 2019.
Prime Minister Lee also met Pro Tempore President of the Argentine Senate Federico Pinedo, Senator of the Province of Buenos Aires Esteban Jose Bullrich, and other influential members of Congress at the National Congress of Argentina. Prime Minister Lee also called on the Mayor of the City of Buenos Aires, Horacio Rodríguez Larreta. During these meetings, both sides discussed avenues to expand cooperation between Singapore and Argentina’s key provinces, as well as the City of Buenos Aires.