LONDON: Joint statement following the second ASEAN Economic Ministers – UK Consultation held on 10 November 2022
The Second ASEAN Economic Ministers (AEM) – United Kingdom Consultation was held on 10 November 2022. The Consultation was co-chaired by H.E. Pan Sorasak, Minister of Commerce of the Royal Government of Cambodia, and Greg Hands MP, Minister of State for the Department of International Trade of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (UK).
The Meeting was pleased to note that the economies of ASEAN and the UK are on their path to post-COVID-19 recovery. According to statistics, total UK trade with ASEAN increased by 3.7 per cent from £36.6 billion in 2020 to £38.0 billion in 2021. The Meeting also noted that foreign direct investment (FDI) inflow from the UK to the ASEAN region had been growing prior to being impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. In this regard, the Meeting noted that in 2020, the FDI inflow from the UK into ASEAN was at least £32.8 billion, £19.0 billion lower than in 2019. In 2020, ASEAN accounted for at least 2.0 per cent of the total UK outward FDI stock.
The Meeting reiterated its commitment to forge a closer cooperation to enable the continued growth of the UK and ASEAN economies following the COVID-19 pandemic. The Meeting expressed appreciation to the UK’s support to the region’s COVID-19 pandemic responses, including through its contribution made to the COVID-19 ASEAN Response Fund and to the ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework (ACRF) and its Implementation Plan.
The Meeting noted that the post-COVID-19 economic recovery remains vulnerable to adverse global economic developments. The Meeting expressed its deep concerns on geopolitical tension and continued risks to global food and energy security, and rising inflationary pressure.
The Meeting exchanged views on ASEAN’s and the UK’s approach in the Indo-Pacific. The Meeting reaffirmed its commitment to ASEAN Centrality and unity in the evolving regional architecture and reiterated the commitment to support an ASEAN-centred regional architecture that is open, transparent, inclusive and rules based, built upon ASEAN-led mechanisms to support the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific (AOIP).
The Meeting noted paragraph 14 of the Chairman’s Statement of the ASEAN Post Ministerial Conference (PMC) 10+1 Sessions with the Dialogue Partners and Trilateral Meetings (Phnom Penh, Cambodia, 3-4 August 2022) and underscored the importance of multilateralism, adherence to international law, and respect for sovereignty in contributing to global and regional peace, stability, and prosperity.
The Meeting welcomed the growing economic cooperation between ASEAN and the UK following the establishment of the ASEAN-UK Dialogue Partnership last year. The Meeting reiterated its commitment to continue strengthening economic cooperation between ASEAN and the UK, as specified in the 2021 Joint Ministerial Declaration for Future Economic Cooperation between ASEAN and the UK (Joint Ministerial Declaration). To this end, the Meeting endorsed the Work Plan to Implement the Joint Ministerial Declaration for Future Economic Cooperation between ASEAN and the UK, and tasked ASEAN and UK Economic Officials to manage and update the Work Plan as necessary.
The Meeting highlighted that since the endorsement of the Joint Ministerial Declaration, the UK had provided support to ASEAN under each of the 11 priority areas. The UK has delivered 73 activities working across 23 ASEAN Sectoral Bodies. The Meeting acknowledged the importance of working together to address shared resilience, the need for free and open markets, diverse supply chains, and a deep trading relationship between the UK and ASEAN, in order to build greater supply chain resilience. The Meeting welcomed the findings of the deep dive study into the regional value chain for medical technologies, presented to the ASEAN Integration Monitoring Division in July 2022 and the Special Committee of the Whole Meeting in September 2022. Both of these activities are part of the effective implementation of Accelerated COVID-19 Economic Support (ACES) programme. The Meeting also thanked the UK for inviting the Chair of the G7 Economic Resilience Panel, Lord Mark Sedwill, to present the findings of the Panel to ASEAN Senior Economic Officials. The Meeting noted the recent publication of the UK’s Critical Minerals Strategy.
The Meeting noted the UK’s participation in the ASEAN Working Group on Intellectual Property Cooperation and the ASEAN Network of Intellectual Property Rights Enforcement Experts to share expertise and technical assistance to progress ASEAN priorities in combating intellectual property infringements and counterfeits, especially in the area of e-commerce trade. The Meeting further noted the UK’s participation in the ASEAN Experts Group on Competition, encouraging continued engagement with the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority following their inclusion in the ASEAN Competition Conference in December 2021 and the delivery of capacity building regarding competition policy for digital markets in August 2022.
The Meeting recognised the critical role of the multilateral trading system centred on the World Trade Organisation (WTO). The Meeting welcomed the successful outcomes of the Twelfth WTO Ministerial Conference (MC12) held on 12-17 June 2022 in Geneva, Switzerland. The Meeting expressed its optimism that the series of decisions made at the MC12, namely the “Geneva Package”, laid the foundations for future initiatives and has shown there is widespread commitment from members to work to enhance the WTO’s effectiveness. There was agreement that there is now the momentum, the focus, and the foundations to build on these outcomes. The WTO’s members now need to capitalise on this moment and start laying the groundwork to ensure a fruitful MC13, which will help reinvigorate the WTO and improve the trust of the global community in the multilateral trading system. The Meeting also reiterated its support for a rules-based, non-discriminatory, open, free, inclusive, equitable, and transparent multilateral trading system, with the WTO at its core, whilst also highlighting the need to reform the WTO to ensure it remains effective in its operation, fit-for-purpose and forward looking. The UK and ASEAN will work together to encourage compromise and build consensus.
The Meeting reiterated its commitment to promote regulatory excellence in ASEAN. The Meeting welcomed the findings of the “Adoption of International Standards in ASEAN” report by the British Standards Institute, and thanked the UK for the workshop with the ASEAN Consultative Committee on Standards and Quality (ACCSQ) and encouraged the UK’s continued participation in the group’s regular meetings. The Meeting noted the UK’s longstanding support of the ASEAN-OECD Good Regulatory Practice Network and noted the special project exploring learning from the pandemic and future opportunities for regulatory reform in the region, including through new technology such as digital consultation to improve effectiveness and simplicity of regulation to enable business growth and trade.
The Meeting looked forward to harnessing the Digital Innovation Partnership to drive the growth of our digital economies under three thematic pillars: Digital Economy Business Partnerships; Digital Trade Policy, Regulation and Standards, and; Digital Government Transformation and Digital Inclusion. The Meeting welcomed the ASEAN-UK Digital Dialogue, held on 8 September 2022, which helped facilitate public and private sector collaboration on digital innovation and technology.
The Meeting noted the UK’s significant contribution to ASEAN in tackling climate change. The Meeting welcomed British International Investment (BII) investment of up to £500 million in the Indo-Pacific and noted that it will be reviewing investment opportunities in the Philippines and Indonesia amongst others, focussing on climate finance investments. The Meeting also noted that the UK has committed up to £107 million to the ASEAN Green Catalytic Finance Facility – fulfilling one of our flagship COP26 commitments. The Meeting welcomed the delivery of the ASEAN-UK Sustainable Leadership in Infrastructure Course and noted that the course was designed specifically with ASEAN’s priorities in mind, as set out in the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity 2025. The Meeting also highlighted other areas of cooperation that ASEAN and the UK will continue to build on, such as financial services, women’s economic empowerment, and support to Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs).
The Meeting exchanged views with the United Kingdom-ASEAN Business Council (UKABC) and noted the briefing by the UKABC on the recent economic activities between the private sectors from the UK and ASEAN including, the ASEAN Financial Literacy Conference and the UK-ASEAN Business Forum, among others. The Meeting expressed its appreciation to the invaluable efforts by the UKABC to further improve collaboration between the private sectors between ASEAN and the UK and looked forward to continued collaboration.
The Meeting expressed its support for Indonesia’s G20 Presidency under the theme “Recover Together, Recover Stronger” and Thailand as host of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) under the theme “Open. Connect. Balance.”. The Meeting noted that these processes provide a unique opportunity for all participating countries/economies to jointly advance the collective global and regional agenda and efforts to bring peace, prosperity and sustainable and inclusive development to all our peoples.
The Meeting reflected on the success of the first full year of ASEAN-UK cooperation now that the UK is an ASEAN Dialogue Partner. The Meeting highlighted the UK’s commitment to deliver impactful, tangible results through our ASEAN-UK partnership, enabling economic growth in the ASEAN region and strengthening ASEAN-UK trade ties for the benefit of our business communities and people.