MEXICO CITY – Singapore will participate in an effort to spur economic development in southern Mexico, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Tuesday after talks with Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
“We made a commitment to strengthen economic relations and to draw up a plan for the management of the ports of Salina Cruz (and) Coatzacoalcos, and to develop the Isthmus of Tehuantepec,” the Mexican leader said on Twitter.
Before Lee’s arrival, Lopez Obrador said at his daily morning press conference that the aim of their meeting would be “to establish a coordination agreement, above all in regard to trade.”
“They (Singaporeans) are experts in port management. They manage ports successfully and have helped in the concept for the administration of the ports of Salina Cruz and Coatzacoalcos in the Isthmus,” the president said.
Development will take place with respect for the wishes of the region’s residents, he said.
Stressing that Singapore is on good terms with both the United States and China, Lopez Obrador said that Mexicans “don’t want to get ourselves in trouble taking sides with one hegemonic country or another.”
The US – Mexico’s No. 1 economic partner – and China have been waging a bilateral trade war for more than a year.
“So, if there is a third country that has good relations with everybody, though it’s not part of one hegemony or another, it makes things easier for us,” the Mexican president said.
Lopez Obrador’s administration has announced plans to invest 8 billion pesos ($413 million) in modernizing the ports of Salina Cruz, in Oaxaca state, and Coatzacoalcos, in Veracruz.
The initiative also envisions restoring the roughly 300 km (180 mi) railway linking the two ports as a way of reducing the transshipment time between Salina Cruz, on the Pacific Ocean, and the Gulf coast port of Coatzacoalcos.
Lee, the first Asian leader to make an official visit to Mexico since Lopez Obrador took office last December, spent Tuesday morning touring the archaeological zone of the Aztec capital of Teotihuacan in the company of the director of the National Institute of Anthropology and History.