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Press Release: British Prime Minister Addresses ASEAN Today as First New Dialogue Partner in 25 Years


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Mon, 25 Oct. 2021

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson today addresses the ASEAN Business and Investment Summit, hosted by Brunei Darussalam as 2021 ASEAN Chair. His speech follows the UK becoming ASEAN’s first new Dialogue Partner in 25 years.

“I was delighted to see ASEAN choose the UK as its first new Dialogue Partner in a quarter of a century,” said the Prime Minister in a video address recorded in Number 10 Downing Street.

“Pre-pandemic we were already doing in the region of £40 billion of business each year with ASEAN.”

“Now, as we all seek to build back better from Coronavirus, I want to see that figure rise further still. And I’m sure it will because global Britain is once again open to the world.”

“We’re embracing new partners and reacquainting ourselves with old friends. We’re negotiating ambitious and wide-ranging free-trade deals with a degree of speed and efficacy that few thought possible. And we’re pioneering high tech frontiers, with a new ASEAN-UK Digital Innovation Partnership underpinned by our Digital Trade Network.”

He noted that, on the surface, the UK and Southeast Asia may appear very different – “not least in terms of weather.”

“But take a look under the bonnet and you see deep and enduring ties in business, education, culture, history and more.”

The Prime Minister highlighted next week’s COP26 Climate Summit in Glasgow as being the “last chance to begin the global push to net zero.”

“If we can use that opportunity to deliver real, substantive action on coal, cars, cash and trees, then I really do believe that we can not only keep temperature increases below 1.5 degrees, but also usher in a worldwide green industrial revolution – growing economies by cutting emissions.”

He will encourage ASEAN leaders to “use our unique relationship to make the most of this green revolution and invest in the future not just of ASEAN and the United Kingdom but of future generations around the world.”

Speaking to the Borneo Bulletin, British High Commissioner John Virgoe said:

“As ASEAN’s first new Dialogue Partner in 25 years, we are committed to even closer collaboration on shared challenges and interests, including trade, climate change, COVID-19 and international security.”

“We are grateful to Brunei Darussalam for championing our Dialogue Partner bid. We look forward to working with Brunei as the UK’s country coordinator to deepen our ties with ASEAN, its Communities and Member States.”

Natalie Black CBE, Her Majesty’s Trade Commissioner for Asia Pacific, said: “Dialogue Partner status provides a platform for enhanced UK-ASEAN cooperation, driving sustainable, inclusive and resilient economic growth.”

“The UK is a top 10 investor in ASEAN. We are committed to supporting ASEAN’s economic recovery and boosting our two-way trade, supporting prosperity and job creation – particularly regarding the Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprise (MSMEs) – that form the backbone of our economies.”

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