Strong US-Singapore ties important: PM Lee
He believes US understands how crucial its role in Asia is
American companies and investments in Singapore generate tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of jobs for Singaporeans, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Wednesday.
It is therefore important for Singapore to maintain good relations with the United States, and for the US to remain engaged in Asia, he told Singapore reporters when summing up his six-day official working visit to the country.
It has been a useful trip, he said. As President Donald Trump is due to travel to Asia next week, "they were receptive to talking to us, hearing our views, getting a perspective of the region and what we would like the United States to do," said PM Lee.
He believed that Singapore had been able to put its points across, and that "the US understands it is important for America to be engaged in Asia, that Asia relies greatly on America's participation in economics, security and many other areas, and this should continue under the new administration".
"How to do it, what specific trade policies to pursue, these are things they have to think about, and they will think about," he added.
PM Lee and Mr Trump on Monday witnessed the signing of a deal for Singapore Airlines to buy 39 planes from aircraft manufacturer Boeing, an order Boeing said will sustain more than 70,000 direct and indirect US jobs for the company, its suppliers and others.
"It means we are buying things from America. At the same time, it means Americans are investing in Singapore and in a very big way," PM Lee said, underlining the strong US-Singapore economic ties.
More than 4,200 American multinational companies have a presence in Singapore.
"Therefore, it is important for us to manage this relationship and to keep on cultivating Americans at many levels," he said.
During his visit, which ended yesterday, PM Lee met US President Trump at the White House, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.
PM Lee also highlighted the importance of stable Sino-US relations to regional and global stability. He said he was heartened that officials he met were aware the US had to remain involved in Asia.
He held separate meetings with Senate Armed Services Committee chairman John McCain, Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Bob Corker and ranking member Ben Cardin, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and House Speaker Paul Ryan.
Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen met Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer, who reiterated that the US Navy would not only continue its influence in the Asia-Pacific, but intended to grow it - and would increase the number of ships in its order of battle.
PM Lee had dinner with National Economic Council director Gary Cohn and discussed how the two countries could further strengthen the already-strong trade and investment linkages, the importance of sustained US economic engagement of South-east Asia, as well as the administration's economic priorities at home and towards Asia.
"We covered a lot of ground this time," PM Lee said of his trip. "I hope it would have left an impression with them and will help to keep America a little bit more focused and engaged in the region."