Singapore's deal to secure Taylor Swift tour exclusivity in Southeast Asia has nation's neighbors fuming—but it's Prime Minister insists the 'very successful' plot wasn't 'unfriendly'

Singapore is basking in the glow of a “very successful” visit from Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour, no doubt boosting the city-state’s already thriving local economy. The only problem is, an uncovered plan which saw Swift paid by the Singaporean government to secure exclusivity rights has been made public—and the nation’s neighbors aren’t pleased.

Last year pop phenomenon Swift announced the Asia-Pacific leg of her record-breaking Eras Tour, but disappointed fans by revealing only Japan, Australia and Singapore would be getting shows.

Last month the Prime Minister of Thailand, Srettha Thavisin, alleged the Singaporean government had offered Swift millions if she agreed her only performances in Southeast Asia would be on their turf.

Srettha told a business forum in Bangkok that Singapore had paid the ‘Love Story’ singer $3 million a show.

The allegations infuriated politicians in the region, leaving the Prime Minister of Singapore, Lee Hsien Loong, to try to salvage relations.

On Tuesday, Lee confirmed the negotiations with Swift, saying the agreement “turned out to be a very successful arrangement.” He added: “I don’t see that as being unfriendly.”

“If we had not made such an arrangement, would she have come to someplace else in south-east Asia or more places in south-east Asia? Maybe, maybe not,” Lee told a summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Australia.

Members of Singapore’s parliament have also been quick to dismiss rumors of how much Swift was paid. On Monday the culture, community and youth minister Edwin Tong told Parliament the leaked figures are “not accurate” adding the real price is “not anywhere as high as speculated.”

Tong said he could not reveal the specifics of the payment due to business confidentiality.

But despite upsetting other nations in the Southeast Asia territory—home to around 700 million people—Lee isn’t hiding the boon Swift proved for his nation. Deals such as this helped expand the economy and bring in “goodwill and visitors.”

Representatives for Swift could not be reached by Fortune for comment.

Love thy neighbor

The countries snubbed by the tour haven’t been shy about making their displeasure with the agreement known.

In the Philippines lawmaker Joey Salceda said the deal is not “what good neighbors do,” adding: “Our countries are good friends. That’s why actions like that hurt. I think it’s also one example of the evolving nature of trade in services that we need to discuss with our neighbors.”

Salceda added the plot had “worked”: regional demand for Singaporean hotels and airlines were up 30%, he said, and said he estimated the tour had added $60 million to industry revenues.

Meanwhile Indonesia’s tourism minister, Sandiaga Salahuddin Uno, may also be disappointed by the news after telling Bloomberg he’d turn to “Swiftonomics” to attempt to boost the visitor economy in the region.

Hong Kong will also be unsatisfied. According to local media, in January politician Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee asked Kevin Yeung Yun-hung (the secretary for culture, sports, and tourism) why more wasn’t being done to ensure acts like Swift visit the region.

Yeung responded that entertainment events, like concerts, tend to “operate on commercial principles without government involvement”—a memo evidently lost en route to Singapore.

Southeast Asian ministers aren’t the only ones to be hankering after a piece of the billion-dollar tour. In July last year the Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, replied to a tweet from Swift about new tour dates in Europe.

The world leader—making various references to Swift’s lyrics—replied: “It’s me, hi. I know places in Canada would love to have you. So, don’t make it another cruel summer. We hope to see you soon.”

Given Swift’s new-found economic impact—cited in everything from Wall Street notes to the Fed’s beige book—the interest in her tour comes as no surprise. Research company QuestionPro estimates the Eras Tour could generate $4.6 billion in consumer spending in the U.S.—in the Greater Cincinnati Area alone the Midnights songwriter generated $90 million during her two-night stint in the city.

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