Press Releases

PRESS RELEASE : Foreign Secretary announces investment in southeast Asian economies [July 2023]

The press release issued by the Foreign Office on 13 July 2023.

The Foreign Secretary will this week visit Jakarta (13 to 14 July), meeting ASEAN partners to advance shared priorities of security, stability and prosperity.

  • Foreign Secretary to attend the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Foreign Ministerial meeting in Indonesia
  • he will set out the UK’s support for a strong and united ASEAN as central to maintaining a free and open Indo-Pacific
  • visit comes as part of a series of multilateral events this month, including the NATO conference and UN Security Council

The Foreign Secretary will this week visit Jakarta (13 to 14 July), meeting ASEAN partners to advance cooperation on the shared priorities of security, stability and prosperity.

During the visit, the Foreign Secretary will announce up to £25 million in funding to support ASEAN nations’ economic growth and reduce poverty, bringing UK expertise in trade, regulation and financial services to the region over the next 5 years. This will boost long-term UK trade and investment links in a region which includes some of the world’s fastest-growing economies.

Southeast Asia is on course to be equivalent to the fourth largest economy by 2030, with total trade in goods and services between the UK and ASEAN worth £46.5 billion to the end of 2022, helping deliver on the government’s priority of growing the economy.

Later this month the UK will begin its formal accession to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement on Trans-Pacific Partnership trade bloc (CPTPP), further strengthening British trade and investment links in the region.

Speaking ahead of the visit, the Foreign Secretary said:

The security and economies of the UK and southeast Asia are more closely linked than ever before.

That is why we are growing our long-term ties with dynamic, fast-growing markets across this region and showing our support for a strong, unified ASEAN – which is vital for the prosperity and stability of the Indo-Pacific.

The UK and ASEAN are working together to deliver the Plan of Action 2022 to 2026 to improve lives across the region, such as ensuring girls across southeast Asia can access quality education. This is in addition to UK work in the wider Indo-Pacific, such as the Climate Action for a Resilient Asia programme, which is upgrading homes and infrastructure to withstand the impacts of climate change.

The Foreign Secretary will set out how the UK is working with ASEAN to make the region safer, from leading the UNSC’s response to the crisis in Myanmar, to engaging with navies across the region and funding high-quality training on maritime security to secure safe and open shipping lanes.

The UK has strong existing defence links across the region, including British Forces Brunei and the Five Power Defence Arrangements alongside Malaysia and Singapore. And the UK is taking its support for regional leadership on defence, security and stability to the next level by seeking membership of the ASEAN Regional Forum and ASEAN Defence Ministers Meeting Plus.

The visit demonstrates how the UK is working through effective multilateral organisations to safeguard a stable and open international order, as set out by the Foreign Secretary in a speech in London last month.

The Foreign Secretary’s visit to Jakarta follows his attendance at the NATO leaders’ summit in Vilnius, Lithuania. The UK set out clear support for a united NATO providing increased political and practical support for Ukraine, as part of a robust global multilateral system. After Jakarta, the Foreign Secretary will travel to the United Nations in New York to lead sessions at the UN Security Council, during the UK’s presidency this month.

The Integrated Review Refresh, published in March 2023, set out how the UK will prioritise the Indo-Pacific, making the region a permanent pillar of the UK’s international policy. Its steadfast partnerships cement the UK’s enduring commitment to safeguarding security, stability and prosperity across the world.

The Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, visited Indonesia in November 2022 for the G20 leaders’ summit, where he set out his five point plan to help the UK and international partners weather the global economic impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.