Firms in Scotland will have access to a wider global network for trade and diplomacy after the UK Government announced it was opening a new British Embassy in Laos.
William Hague announced the news while making the first ever visit to the country by a British Foreign Secretary. The trip follows the Prime Minister’s visit to Asia in April.
The move reflects the UK Government’s determinations to build stronger relationships with Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). The UK is now one of only three European countries to have an Embassy in every one of the 10 nations of ASEAN.
The Scottish Secretary Michael Moore said: “Scotland’s businesses and residents already benefit from the UK’s diplomatic, consular and trade networks across the globe, which promotes and protects the interests of the UK, its citizens and firms.
“Being part of the UK means we have access to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s network of around 270 diplomatic posts in 170 countries, and its 14,000 staff. It is also expanding into new areas as we can see from the new British Embassy in Laos.
“In trade terms, UK Trade and Investment has 162 offices in 96 countries and can draw on the UK’s diplomatic representation throughout the world.
“One of the big questions facing Scotland ahead of the referendum is the effect leaving the UK would have on an independent Scotland’s global reach and influence. The prospect of losing access to these global networks can only harm business confidence.
The Foreign Secretary William Hague said: “ASEAN countries are at the centre of Asia’s rise. They represent 600 million people; absorb more UK exports than mainland China or India; and are predicted to be the world’s fourth-largest single market by 2030. This is therefore an excellent moment to be opening an Embassy and starting a new era in our relations.”
While in Laos the Foreign Secretary will represent the UK at the Asia-Europe Summit. He will call for vigorous engagement in Asia by the European Union as a whole, particularly in championing free trade agreements, lowering barriers to trade, and forging closer cooperation in the areas of security and disaster preparedness.