SBF and IE Singapore lead business missions to Cuba and Mexico
- First business mission to Cuba comprising 14 companies from the tourism, infrastructure, ICT, professional services and general trading sectors.
- Nineteen large companies and SMEs on the business mission to Mexico to explore opportunities in urban solutions, energy and professional services.
The 14 companies making up the Singapore delegation to Havana are from the tourism, infrastructure, information and communications technology, professional services, packaging, pharmaceuticals, finance and investments, oil and gas, and general trading sectors.
Mr Lee Ark Boon CEO of IE Singapore and co-lead for the mission said, “Although growth in Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) has slowed, the region is not homogeneous. There are resilient economies and specific sectors that continue to grow or have good potential. In Cuba, Singapore companies can do well in infrastructure, logistics and hospitality, as the economy starts to open up. For a more developed market like Mexico, we are exploring partnerships in oil and gas, infrastructure and manufacturing. The crux is to be nimble, react to the immediate but adopt a long-term approach.”
A highlight of the Cuban leg of the business mission is the Cuba-Singapore Business Forum on 6 June 2016. Gracing the event are Singapore’s Minister for Trade and Industry (Trade), Mr Lim Hng Kiang, and Cuba’s Minister of Foreign Trade and Foreign Investment, Mr Rodrigo Malmierca Diaz. At the Forum, SBF and the Cuban Chamber of Commerce will sign three Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) on information exchange, trade and investment facilitation and technical cooperation.
Mr Ho Kwon Ping, mission leader for the Cuban leg and Executive Chairman of Banyan Tree, said, “Singapore can share its experiences in areas such as economic growth, trade and education to contribute to the development of Cuba. The partnerships formed at this inaugural Singapore business mission to Cuba mark a significant milestone in ties between Cuba and Singapore, and demonstrate the strong interest of Singapore businesses in Cuba. We are excited about many areas of potential collaborations, and look forward to further deepening the friendship between our business communities.”
The delegation will also visit the Mariel Special Development Economic Zone, where the Port of Singapore Authority is managing the Mariel Port. Situated 45 km from Havana in the province of Artemisa, the Mariel port faces the coast of Florida in the US, strategically located to benefit from the new chapter in US relations with Cuba.
For the Mexican leg of the business mission, the delegation of 16 companies will attend the Mexico-Singapore Business Forum. The event, jointly organised by COMCE (Mexican Business Council for Foreign Trade, Investment and Technology) and SBF, and supported by IE Singapore and ProMexico, will be graced by Minister Lim and his Mexican counterpart, Mr Ildefonso Guajardo, Secretary of Economy. Singapore President Dr Tony Tan Keng Yam will deliver a brief address.
Ms Susan Chong, mission leader for the Mexican leg and CEO of Greenpac (S) Pte Ltd, said, “There are some 40 Singapore companies in Mexico and close to 70 Mexican companies in Singapore. Such cross-border presence and investments not only contribute significant economic activity and employment to both countries, it also brings opportunities for cross-learning and technology transfer between our companies. The MoU that SBF signed with COMCE demonstrates the sustained commitment to help Singapore companies, including SMEs, expand into Mexico and for Mexican businesses to access Asia via Singapore.
As one of the largest markets in the Caribbean with more than 11 million residents and a literacy rate of 99.8%, Cuba offers a wealth of business opportunities. The recent renewal of diplomatic ties between the US and Cuba has also generated much interest and optimism among the Singapore business community.
On the tourism front, Cuba is known for its white-sand beaches, rolling mountains, rich culture and well-preserved Spanish colonial architecture. According to a Reuters report, Cuba received a record 3.52 million visitors last year, up 17.4% from 2014. This presents opportunities for Singapore businesses from the hospitality industry to meet the increasing demands in this sector.
Other areas where there is much synergies to be tapped on between Singapore and Cuba include the planning and development of townships or industrial parks, airport management, logistics, water and waste management and e-government solutions.
These developments, coupled with the lifting of visa restrictions between Singapore and Cuba since 31 March 2016, will present ample opportunities for people-to-people, cultural and business exchanges between Singapore and Cuba.
To date, Singapore companies have established a presence in Cuba in the hospitality and infrastructure sectors. Singapore companies such as Banyan Tree have partnered local hospitality company, Grupo Gaviota, to manage its property in an island off Cuba, Cayo Las Brujas.
Mexico has the 10th largest population in the world, with over 127 million inhabitants.
Singapore enjoys a growing economic relationship with Mexico, the second largest economy in Latin America and Caribbean. Singapore and Mexico bilateral trade has doubled over the last decade, reaching S$4.6 billion in 2015. In the same year, Mexico was our 2nd largest trading partner in the Latin America and Caribbean region. As end-2014, Singapore was Mexico’s fourth largest investor from the Asia-Pacific.
Mexico has a network of 11 Free Trade Agreement with 47 countries, a testament to Mexico’s pro-trade and pro-business outlook.
Some 40 Singapore companies are in Mexico, with the majority of them being SMEs.
To date, Singapore companies have established a presence in Mexico in the manufacturing, infrastructure, oil and gas, consumer products and services sectors. Banyan Tree currently operates two of the top 10 resorts in Cancun and Acapulco, and has also announced a hospitality fund to invest in hospitality projects in Mexico. Precision plastic components manufacturer, Sunningdale Tech, has been delivering high quality plastic injection components to the automotive, telecommunications and medical technologies industries through its plant in Guadalajara, Mexico, for the past 10 years.