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Singapore Prime Minister Defends Exclusive Deal With Taylor Swift Amid Controversy With Neighbours: Its Not 'Unfriendly'

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong defends the exclusive deal with Taylor Swift amid controversy, asserting it as a successful arrangement benefiting Singapore's tourism industry without considering it unfriendly towards neighboring countries.

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Taylor Swift Singapore Exclusive Deal Photo: Getty Images

On Tuesday, Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong justified an exclusive agreement made by his city-state with Taylor Swift, preventing the pop star from bringing her current Eras Tour to other locations in Southeast Asia.

Under an exclusive agreement, Taylor Swift is set to perform six concerts in Singapore from March 2 to 9. However, this deal has faced criticism from certain Southeast Asian neighbors who argue that they have missed out on the tourist boom typically associated with her concerts.

Lee confirmed that Taylor Swift was offered "certain incentives" from a government fund established to revive the tourism industry following COVID-19 disruptions, encouraging her to select Singapore as her exclusive Southeast Asian destination. However, he did not disclose the cost of the deal.

He stated that he did not perceive the deal as being unfriendly towards neighboring countries within the 10-country Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

In the Australian city of Melbourne, where he is attending an ASEAN leaders’ summit, Lee remarked, "It has turned out to be a very successful arrangement. I don’t see that as being unfriendly."

When asked whether he encountered any “bad blood” among other leaders due to the deal, Lee avoided giving a direct response. Instead, he suggested that if Singapore hadn't secured an exclusive deal, a neighboring country might have done so.

“Sometimes one country makes a deal, sometimes another country does. I don’t explicitly say ‘you will come here only on condition that you’ll not go to other places,’” Lee said.

Regarding Australia's arrangements with Swift, Lee mentioned that he expected Australia had made "mutually acceptable, sensible arrangements" with the pop star when she performed in Sydney and Melbourne before heading to Singapore. However, he admitted he was not privy to the specifics of Australia's arrangements.

“If that’s what’s needed to be done to get an outcome which is mutually beneficial and which, from Singapore’s point of view, serves not just to grow the economy but also to bring in visitors and goodwill from all over the region, I don’t see why not,” Lee said.

“If we had not made such an arrangement, would she have come to someplace else in Southeast Asia or more places in Southeast Asia? Maybe, maybe not. These are things that she will decide,” Lee added.

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, the host of the ASEAN summit, attended one of Swift’s Sydney concerts last month.