UK becomes Dialogue Partner to ASEAN
The UK has become a dialogue partner of ASEAN, which Britain says will lead to closer cooperation between the UK and the region on a range of issues such as trade, investment, climate change, environment, science and technology, and education.
The UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab will join a virtual ceremony along with other ASEAN Foreign Ministers, where they will welcome the UK as an ASEAN 'Dialogue Partner', according to a statement from the UK foreign office.
Since the UK submitted its application to become a Dialogue Partner in June 2020, the foreign secretary has attended two UK-ASEAN ministerial meetings and hosted the ASEAN chair at the G7 Foreign & Development Ministers meeting in May.
ASEAN is an influential group of ten member countries in the Indo-Pacific. By becoming a dialogue partner, the UK formalised its relations with the group – becoming a regular participant in annual foreign and economic ministers meetings along with other ministerial engagements.
Dialogue Partner status puts the UK at the heart of the Indo-Pacific as well. The UK and ASEAN members will work together on important challenges such as maritime security and transnational crime, boosting trade and economy, and cooperate on issues such as Covid-19 and climate change.
"I am delighted that the UK has, today, formally become a Dialogue Partner of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) bloc – the first new country in 25 years," Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab said.
"This is a landmark moment in the UK's tilt towards the Indo Pacific. Our closer ties with ASEAN will help create green jobs, reinforce our security cooperation, promote tech and science partnerships, and safeguard key pillars of international law like the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea."
The new agreement will also help the UK to deepen its economic links with ASEAN, which has a combined GDP of $3.2 trillion. Total trade between the UK and ASEAN was £32.3 billion in the four quarters that ended on Q1 of 2021 with huge potential to boost this trade, creating jobs at home.
International Trade Secretary Liz Truss said this is great news and illustrates Global Britain in action, forging stronger relationships around the world as an independent trading nation.
"Along with CPTPP accession and deals with countries like Singapore and Vietnam, this will help unlock opportunities for British businesses in a high-growth region of more than 650 million people, allowing them to expand and create jobs across the UK."
The announcement comes at a time of growing UK defence and security cooperation in the Indo-Pacific, as the UK's Carrier Strike Group, led by the Queen Elizabeth, is in the region and has completed a series of engagements with a range of ASEAN partners, with further interactions planned in the autumn.