UK Foreign Secretary, attending the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) Foreign Ministerial meeting in Indonesia, will emphasize the UK’s commitment to a strong and united ASEAN as crucial for maintaining a free and open Indo-Pacific.
Multilateral Engagement: NATO Conference and UN Security Council
As part of a series of multilateral events this month, the Foreign Secretary’s visit to Jakarta aligns with the NATO conference and the UK’s presidency at the UN Security Council. This underscores the UK’s proactive engagement in global affairs.
Strengthening Economic Cooperation and Reducing Poverty
During the visit, the Foreign Secretary will announce up to £25 million in funding to support ASEAN nations’ economic growth and poverty reduction. The UK will bring expertise in trade, regulation, and financial services to the region over the next five years, fostering long-term trade and investment links.
Southeast Asia’s Economic Potential and UK-ASEAN Trade
Southeast Asia is poised to become the fourth-largest economy by 2030, with total trade between the UK and ASEAN worth £46.5 billion by the end of 2022. The UK’s formal accession to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement on Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) trade bloc will further enhance British trade and investment ties in the region.
Building Prosperity and Security in ASEAN
The Foreign Secretary emphasizes the interconnectedness of the UK’s security and economies with Southeast Asia. The UK’s collaboration with ASEAN includes delivering the “Plan of Action 2022-2026” to improve lives in the region, such as ensuring access to quality education for girls.
Initiatives like the Climate Action for a Resilient Asia program contribute to addressing climate change impacts.
Strengthening Defence Links and Regional Security
The UK has existing defense links across the region, including British Forces Brunei and participation in the Five Power Defence Arrangements. Seeking membership in the ASEAN Regional Forum and ASEAN Defence Ministers Meeting Plus demonstrates the UK’s commitment to regional leadership on defense, security, and stability.
The Foreign Secretary’s visit to Jakarta follows his attendance at the NATO leaders’ summit, where the UK expressed support for a united NATO and increased support for Ukraine. The UK’s engagement at the UN Security Council during its presidency further underscores its commitment to a stable and open international order.
The Integrated Review Refresh highlights the UK’s prioritization of the Indo-Pacific and its steadfast partnerships in safeguarding global security, stability, and prosperity.
History and Purpose of ASEAN
ASEAN, the Association of South East Asian Nations, was founded in 1967 as a regional community aimed at bringing together ten Southeast Asian countries. The organization operates on a set of common principles while striving to accelerate economic growth, promote social progress, and foster cultural development through collaborative efforts.
ASEAN Member Countries and UK’s Partnership
The ten member countries of ASEAN are Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. Each nation plays a vital role in shaping ASEAN’s initiatives and advancing regional cooperation.
In 2021, the UK became an ASEAN Dialogue Partner, solidifying its commitment to engaging with ASEAN and promoting collaboration. In 2022, a roadmap for UK-ASEAN economic, political, and security cooperation, known as the Plan of Action 2022-2026, was agreed upon, highlighting the shared goals and objectives for the partnership.
ASEAN’s Dialogue Partners
Apart from the UK, ASEAN also collaborates with various Dialogue Partners, including Australia, Canada, China, the European Union, India, Japan, the Republic of Korea, New Zealand, Russia, and the United States of America. These partnerships further enhance regional cooperation and facilitate engagements across multiple sectors.
ASEAN has played a crucial role in promoting regional stability, economic integration, and cultural exchange among its member countries since its inception in 1967.
The organization continues to evolve and expand its partnerships to address the challenges and opportunities in Southeast Asia.
As a Dialogue Partner, the UK contributes to ASEAN’s vision of a united and prosperous region through various collaborative initiatives and joint efforts.