SECRETARY KERRY: Good afternoon, everybody. My pleasure to welcome the foreign minister of Singapore, Foreign Minister Shanmugam. He is probably the first person, I think – one of the first people I talked to when I first became the Secretary, and we have had the pleasure of working in a number of different meetings and fora in the Asia Pacific, elsewhere.
I want to thank him and Singapore for their strong strategic partnership with the United States. There are many issues of concern where we think alike and we work in partnership. One of the most recent, obviously, is the Chinese challenge to the Paracel Islands. And we are particularly concerned – all nations that are engaged in navigation and traffic within the South China Sea, the East China Sea, are deeply concerned about this aggressive act. We want to see a code of conduct created; we want to see this resolved peacefully through the Law of the Sea, through arbitration, through any other means, but not direct confrontation and aggressive action.
In addition, we have enormous interests in terms of our economies and other interests. We work on counternarcotics, we work on counterterrorism, and particularly of great interest to both of us is the economic relationship. We have some 2,000 American businesses that are based in Singapore. Singapore is an enormous port, as everybody knows. It’s critical to the trade and commerce in the region. We have had a free trade agreement with Singapore for some period of time now, and that really was the precursor to the thinking about the TPP, Trans-Pacific Partnership, where again, Singapore has been deeply engaged, very involved in helping to shape it, showing leadership for which we are very appreciative.
In addition to that, we are engaged with the U.S.-Asia Pacific Comprehensive Energy Pact Partnership. And this is vital to our ability to be able to attract capital and fund renewable fuel projects, long-term clean energy projects for the future.
So I’m delighted to welcome the foreign minister here today, and we look forward to having a fruitful conversation. Thank you very much.
FOREIGN MINISTER SHANMUGAM: Thank you, Secretary Kerry. We have had – I met Secretary Kerry last year. We have had a great set of interactions. Singapore and U.S., we are old friends. Very strong partnership, very strong security relationship, and we have very similar ideas on a broad range of issues, as Secretary Kerry has said.
I want to talk to Secretary Kerry about both our bilateral issues – there are no issues, but how to take the partnership further, and also on regional issues, and also on the TPP, which Secretary Kerry spoke about. Today, 560,000 American jobs are dependent on exports to ASEAN alone, and ASEAN attracts nearly U.S. $200 billion of investments, the largest in all of Asia. One in three American jobs are dependent on exports to Asia. So the TPP has tremendous economic consequences for the U.S. and for our region, and I hope to speak with Secretary Kerry and others on the importance of making substantial progress, which is the President’s determination.
And on regional issues, on South China Sea issues, we have – I’ve just come from the ASEAN meeting. ASEAN foreign ministers issued a statement. We do not want tension. We want a code of conduct to be progressed with. We need a situation where parties resolve their disputes and differences in a way that’s acceptable to all, and I’m sure we’ll have good discussions. Thank you.
SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you.
FOREIGN MINISTER SHANMUGAM: Thank you.
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