The Asia Europe meeting (ASEM), this year held in India, provides an opportunity to advance a wide range of UK priorities in Asia and beyond. FCO Minister of State Hugo Swire, who is representing the UK at the meeting, said:
This Government is proud to have increased our diplomatic footprint across Asia. This summit shows why.
Asia matters, first of all, to the UK economy. We will be pushing for progress on the number of Free Trade Agreements being negotiated by the EU with Asian countries - Singapore, India, Japan, Vietnam and Thailand. The recent EU-Korea deal showed the huge difference these can make, boosting trade by almost $10bn. We will also be urging support for a global trade deal at Bali in December. This would add around $110bn a year to the global economy, and Asia and Europe together - which account for 60% of the world’s commerce - can play a decisive role in making it happen. The margins of the summit will also give us opportunities to promote major British investments right across the region.
Asia matters to our broader global interests. Europe and Asia are like-minded in many areas, and greater cooperation between us can make a real difference. We will be re-stating our wider G8 priorities of trade, tax and transparency, which can contribute to the prosperity of our two regions. There will also be discussion on how we best work together to tackle some of the most important global problems of our age - from Syria, to Iran, to North Korea.
Asia matters for our values. Many Asian countries are great allies in the promotion of democracy and human rights. But we cannot take this for granted, and we will be using our meetings here, for example, to encourage constitutional reform in Burma, to urge dialogue to advance the political process in Cambodia, and to raise human rights concerns across the region. We will also be encouraging further support for the Foreign Secretary’s Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative.
And Asia matters, of course, because Britain has so many long-standing and historic friendships here. The UK remains committed to these friendships and to offering our support where it is needed.
Our thoughts now are with the people of the Philippines. I have emphasised again our sincere condolences for the destruction caused by Typhoon Yolanda and reaffirmed the UK’s continuing package of support.