UK Seeks Closer Trade Ties with ASEAN after Brexit

Foreign Office Minister for Asia and the Pacific, Heather Wheeler, began on 16 September a four-day visit to ASEAN members Laos, Cambodia, and Thailand to discuss bolstering the UK-ASEAN trade and cooperation after Brexit.

The UK is looking to become a Dialogue Partner of ASEAN and Foreign Office Minister Wheeler said that she received strong support for the UK’s bid in discussions with top Cambodian officials during her visit to Cambodia.

In Laos, Cambodia, and Thailand, Minister Wheeler also discussed the UK’s bilateral partnership with each of the three ASEAN members, as well as efforts to combat climate change, and the role of women in society and business.

“Minister Wheeler will use her conversations in Laos, Cambodia and Thailand to emphasise co-operation on climate issues and UK leadership, including hosting COP 26 in Glasgow in 2020,” the Foreign Office said in a statement on 16 September.

Ahead of her trip to the ASEAN region, Minister Wheeler said:

“Brexit is an opportunity for the UK to think in a truly global manner. In that spirit, and as the Minister for Asia-Pacific, I want to build a stronger relationship with the countries of South East Asia.”

Minister Wheeler’s visit is the second trip of a senior Foreign Office official to Southeast Asia in three months.
 
The UK’s Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab travelled to Thailand earlier this year to discuss the UK’s trade opportunities with Southeast Asian nations after Brexit.  
 
“Great to meet so many fellow foreign ministers at #ASEAN2019 in Bangkok today to discuss shared challenges and opportunities & the UK’s post-Brexit ambitions,” Raab tweeted from Bangkok after he met the foreign ministers of Norway and of ASEAN member Indonesia.

“For too long, our trade focus has been on Europe. We need to expand our horizons, and raise our game,” Raab said before his Asian trip.