November 7, 2023
PHNOM PENH – The UK has reiterated its commitment to working closely with ASEAN and the bloc’s partners in support of peace, stability and economic growth in the region, while respecting ASEAN centrality.
The commitment came as ASEAN secretary-general Kao Kim Hourn wrapped up his first official visit to London on November 3.
The visit reaffirmed the growth of the partnership since the UK became an ASEAN dialogue partner in 2021.
This partnership spans political-security, economic, socio-cultural and other priority areas, as outlined in the ASEAN-UK plan of action 2022-26 and the ASEAN Community vision.
The visit also highlighted ASEAN-UK cooperation on all four priority areas of the ASEAN outlook on the Indo-Pacific: connectivity; maritime cooperation; economic cooperation; and issues key to achieving the UN sustainable development goals (SDGs) including education, health and climate.
“The UK’s dialogue partnership with ASEAN strengthens and deepens the longstanding relationships between the UK and the region.
“Throughout his visit, the UK reaffirmed to the secretary-general its commitment to working with ASEAN partners in support of the region’s peace, stability and economic growth, and its respect for ASEAN centrality as the underlying principle for promoting cooperation in the Indo-Pacific and ASEAN-led mechanisms as platforms for cooperation,” said a joint summary of the visit, released over the weekend.
Kim Hourn and UK Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden discussed global challenges such as cybersecurity and highlighted their mutual ambition for further collaboration.
The ASEAN secetary-general noted the UK’s existing support for the ASEAN-Singapore cybersecurity centre of excellence, as well as the ASEAN-Japan cyber capacity building centre.
He also met with Anne-Marie Trevelyan, UK Minister for the Indo-Pacific, and discussed the UK’s support for maritime cooperation in Southeast Asia. They discussed the new ASEAN-UK maritime programme in support of the ASEAN outlook on the Indo-Pacific and the ASEAN maritime outlook.
“This new capacity-building programme will boost regional resilience and support ASEAN member states’ responses to maritime cooperation challenges.
“[Trevelyan] raised the UK’s strong interest in engaging with ASEAN’s wider regional defence and security architecture, as demonstrated by its applications to join the ASEAN regional forum and the ASEAN defence ministers’ meeting plus,” added the statement.
The visit highlighted the deep economic ties between the UK and ASEAN, with their trade volume worth $58 billion per year.
Kim Hourn expressed his appreciation for the UK’s commitment of $30 million to the ASEAN-UK economic integration programme, saying it will be central to the delivery of the work plan to implement the ASEAN-UK joint ministerial declaration on future economic cooperation.
The UK reaffirmed its commitment to working with ASEAN to deepen the collaborative links between their science and technology sectors.
“Kim Hourn expressed the view that these links will support the future economy and address shared and global challenges including climate change resilience and adaptation, health, energy transition and access, and disaster preparedness,” said the statement.
“He also welcomed the establishment of the UK’s international science partnerships fund, which promises to bolster future ASEAN-UK’s science, technology, and innovation initiatives for mutual benefit,” he added.
The UK also announced a new support package to further strengthen expert collaboration and knowledge exchange with ASEAN. The new programme will strengthen the capacity of ASEAN policymakers and practitioners in the cultural and creative industries.
The two sides agreed on the importance of connectivity to regional peace, stability and prosperity, as well as to the implementation of the ASEAN outlook on the Indo-Pacific.
“The ASEAN secretary-general’s visit showcased the growing breadth of the partnership between ASEAN and the UK and provided avenues to facilitate future cooperation.
“The secretary-general expressed his support for building on these strong foundations through new initiatives to deepen and broaden our cooperation including the possibility of an ASEAN-UK centre,” said the statement.