UK to strengthen ties with ASEAN hinh anh 1

        Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung and his UK counterpart David Cameron hold talks on July 29. Photo: VNA

Sajid Javid, UK Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, has written an article on reasons why Britain wants to strengthen economic ties with South East Asia following Prime Minister David Cameron’s trip to four South East Asian nations, including Vietnam, in late July.

The official pointed out that South East Asia is the UK’s eighth biggest export market, with 13.8 billion GBP in exports per annum.

“That’s three times more than we export to Brazil, and twice what we export to India. As part of the Government’s efforts to increase UK exports to 1 trillion GBP a year and to get 100,000 more UK companies exporting by 2020, the first trade trip of this Parliament brought delegates from our Northern Powerhouse to a region forecast to grow at 5 percent this year and with potential to unlock huge opportunities for jobs and growth in the UK,” he wrote.

The Secretary noted that more than 3,000 British businesses are already thriving in South East Asia, in every sector from advanced engineering, energy and healthcare, to financial services, hi tech and creative services. And it’s not just the big names such as Roll-Royce, HSBC and GSK that have put down roots here: nearly 25 percent of UK firms active in the region are small to medium size businesses.

According to Javid, the advent of the ASEAN Economic Community will ease the way for the 10 member countries to work even more closely together. With a skilled workforce and a youthful population providing a strong foundation for future growth, the region is playing an increasingly prominent role on the world economic stage.

“That is why I came here with the Prime Minister and a large business delegation of more than 60 UK companies, including from the Northern Powerhouse of the UK. We want to grow our business with South East Asia by forging stronger bonds, creating trading partnerships and offering investment opportunities in the UK. That is also why we have embassies or high commissions in all 10 ASEAN countries and a UK Ambassador to ASEAN based in Jakarta. The Prime Minister has also appointed a trade envoy specifically for the ASEAN Economic Community. Richard Graham MP will take on the role alongside his existing role as trade envoy to Indonesia. He joined the Prime Minister for talks with the ASEAN Secretary General during this trip. And our focus is not just on economic powerhouses such as Indonesia – Lord Puttnam has been working as trade envoy since 2012 with the rising stars of Vietnam, Cambodia, Burma and Laos, and the re-opening last year of the Laos Embassy in London means that all 10 ASEAN countries now have missions in the UK, and vice-versa,” the Secretary wrote.

He said the Prime Minister also announced the UK government will provide technical assistance to South East Asian countries as they implement the reforms set out in the ASEAN Economic Community agenda, and to facilitate infrastructure development in the region.

“We are working within the EU to support free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations with the region. The EU's first FTA in South East Asia – with Singapore – has already been concluded, and we look forward to seeing it implemented. Negotiations with Vietnam are due to conclude soon and discussions with other countries in the region are under way. We hope these will eventually lead to an EU-ASEAN FTA, creating one of the biggest free trade areas in the world with combined GDP of over 20 trillion USD, offering enormous economic benefits to people in Europe and all of the countries of South East Asia,” he wrote.
At the same time, the official stressed that the UK’s focus is not just economic.

“Science and innovation are at the heart of the UK’s long term economic plan. We start from a strong position with world leading research, world-class universities and some of the very best global talent, but we also recognise that the best science requires partnerships. Leading UK researchers and innovators are developing partnerships with Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam to address key challenges such as improving healthcare and making urbanisation more sustainable,” he wrote.

Javid noted that during PM Cameron’s visit, the UK also agreed 500,000 GBP of joint funding through the UK & Singapore Innovation and Research Partnership to help small and medium sized companies collaborate in the development and demonstration of technologies for smart cities.

He went on to say that the UK is working with countries across South East Asia to tackle critical climate change issues including how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation, and how to shift our economies and energy systems onto a lower carbon pathway opening up new investment opportunities and innovative technologies.

The official said all of these partnerships will help build long term collaborations with countries that will produce leading innovations in the future. He added that right now, there are more than 40,000 students from SE Asia studying in the UK, including 2,000 from ASEAN's smallest member Brunei alone, and more than 140,000 students studying on UK programmes in South East Asia.

“In an increasingly global market place, the importance of the economies in South East Asia is set to grow. I am confident that we can build on this week’s visit to work even more closely with our ASEAN partners to help create jobs and growth for hardworking people in South East Asia and the UK,” the UK Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills wrote in conclusion.-VNA