Singapore

PM Lee accepts Trump's invite to visit Washington

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has accepted an invitation from US President Donald Trump to visit Washington, and hopes to make the trip this year.

The White House said both leaders affirmed their commitment to the partnership between the nations.

"This is marked by thriving trade and investment, robust security cooperation, and close collaboration on regional and global challenges," it said, adding that Mr Trump invited Mr Lee to Washington to further strengthen ties.

In his May Day Rally speech, Mr Lee noted that confidence in the US economy was up. But he outlined how the US' tougher stance on trade - forgoing a multilateral, win-win approach for a win-lose view instead - posed a risk to global trade.

Mr Lee noted the US is focusing on bilateral trade balances, targeting countries it has a deficit with. He told his audience that as unionists, they would understand this was negotiation.

"If you talk tough and you win a better deal, that is good. But if you talk too tough and as a result, you sour the trust, relationship and cooperation, then that is a lose-lose outcome."

Other countries have for now said they want to stay open to trade, he said, citing China, Germany and Japan. But if this harder US line leads to countries getting into a tit-for-tat on trade, "then things can turn sour very quickly", said Mr Lee.

"The US has a big trade surplus with Singapore. Therefore, our relations with the US are fine. Because we don't look at it as win-lose, we look at it as win-win," he said. "We continue to be good friends with the US. But because our economy is so dependent on trade, if a trade war breaks out, even if we are not directly involved, it's going to hurt our economy. And we have to be prepared for this."

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