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SBF, IE Singapore leading delegations to Cuba, Mexico

THE Singapore Business Federation (SBF) and International Enterprise (IE) Singapore are jointly leading business missions to Cuba's capital city Havana and Mexico City in early June.

Some 14 companies are visiting Havana on Monday and Tuesday. These companies making up the Singapore delegation are from the tourism, infrastructure, information and communications technology, professional services, packaging, pharmaceuticals, finance and investments, oil and gas, and general trading sectors.

Lee Ark Boon, IE Singapore chief executive and co-lead for the Havana 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 Monday. Gracing the event are Singapore's Minister for Trade and Industry, Lim Hng Kiang, and Cuba's Minister of Foreign Trade and Foreign Investment, 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.

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."

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The delegation will also visit the Mariel Special Development Economic Zone, where PSA 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.

Sixteen companies participating in the Mexican leg from June 8-10 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 Mr Lim and his Mexican counterpart, Ildefonso Guajardo, Secretary of Economy. Singapore President Tony Tan Keng Yam will deliver a brief address.

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."

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