U.K. Has ‘Huge’ Interest in Southeast Asia

The U.K. government and businesses already were focused on deepening partnerships in the Asia-Pacific region before the coronavirus pandemic, and now are doubling down on promoting free trade and digital partnerships there, the country’s trade commissioner for Asia-Pacific said in a Bloomberg Television interview.

  • U.K. trade with Southeast Asia is up 70% over the past decade to 42 billion pounds ($56 billion), and “we could do more,” Natalie Black told Bloomberg Television’s Haslinda Amin and Rishaad Salamat
  • U.K. businesses have a “huge amount of interest” in developing digital trade partnerships in Asia-Pacific. The item is a real focus for the U.K., including in trade talks with Singapore and Vietnam, she said
  • “We collectively need to put free trade at the center of everything that we’re trying to achieve” amid the Covid recovery in preserving jobs, supply chains, and keeping affordable goods and services flowing: Black
  • Asked about U.S.-China tensions, Black said the U.K. is “defending the multilateral, rule-based system” and there are “no winners in a trade war”
  • U.K. focus is “very much on bilateral agreements” in Asia-Pacific, especially with Japan, Australia, and New Zealand; “all are progressing very well”
  • Asked whether Brexit remains a worry among partners in Asia-Pacific trade talks, Black said the issue used to be more prominent but lately “has gone down in the agenda.” Black said she does expect the next round of formal Brexit talks, starting next week, to be “challenging”
  • U.K. remains “very interested” in how to contribute to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership and is closely following negotiations on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership
  • NOTE: Vietnam hosted virtual meetings of Asean economic ministers in late August, which included the U.K.’s first formal economic engagement with Asean

Source: Bloomberg

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