Press release

PM sets sights on south-east Asia with £750m business deals and new EU trade deal

The Prime Minister landed in Jakarta this morning (27 July 2015) on the start of a 4-day trade visit to south-east Asia.

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  • The Prime Minister is taking the first trade mission of the new Parliament to Indonesia, Singapore, Vietnam and Malaysia
  • The first ‘one nation’ trade delegation with 31 businesses, from every region
  • Trade deals worth over £750 million to be signed, creating 270 new jobs
  • The PM urges EU to jump start trade agreement with ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) worth £3 billion to UK economy

As part of the government’s efforts to increase UK exports to £1 trillion a year and to get 100,000 more UK companies exporting by 2020, the Prime Minister is taking the first trade mission of the new Parliament to a region forecast to grow at 5% this year and with potential to unlock huge opportunities for jobs and growth in the UK.

Visit the news story PM visits south-east Asia for the latest updates from the 4-day tour.

Underlining the government’s commitment to ‘one nation’, the Prime Minister is joined by 31 representatives from businesses from every region of the UK. And while the focus of the trip is about opening doors to future trade, deals worth over £750 million and creating 270 new jobs across the UK are set to be sealed this week.

The government will also make available up to £1 billion to finance infrastructure projects in Indonesia through its export guarantee scheme. This financing could pave the way for growth of £200 million worth of exports to UK. Projects up for grabs include a sewage treatment system in Jakarta worth £400 million and geothermal power projects worth £66 million.

As well as boosting bilateral trade, the Prime Minister will also put his weight behind an EU-ASEAN deal. Becoming the first British Prime Minister to visit ASEAN HQ in Jakarta, he will call for the EU and ASEAN to jump start negotiations talks on a free trade agreement.

A deal between these 2 trading blocs has the potential to benefit the UK economy by £3 billion every year – nearly £120 per household – by creating one of the biggest free trade areas in the world with combined GDP of over $20 trillion.

Following on from the EU-Singapore FTA (free trade agreement) and on the back of recent progress on an EU-Vietnam trade deal, the Prime Minister hopes that the need for economic growth in Europe will spur on trade agreements with the rest of the world.

Speaking ahead of the visit, the Prime Minister said:

Over the next 20 years, 90% of global growth is expected to come from outside Europe and Britain must be poised to take advantage. That’s why I’m delighted to be taking British businesses to this vast and dynamic market, securing deals worth over £750 million and creating opportunities for hard-working people back at home.

We can also open up more markets for British businesses by leveraging the power of the EU’s single market with 500 million consumers to secure bold, ambitious trade deals with these fastest, growing economies. The EU has shown this can be done with the trade agreement with Singapore and the recent breakthrough in talks with Vietnam but an EU-ASEAN trade deal would really turbo charge growth across the single market. And I will be making the case in my discussions with Secretary General Le Luong Minh later today. Alongside an EU-US trade agreement, such deals would be like a shot in the arm for Europe’s economy.

These deals really do remove barriers and costs for British businesses. Just last Friday in Geneva, we moved a big step closer to an agreement that, if finalised in Nairobi in December, would eliminate tariffs on a wide range of information, communication and technology (ICT) products – exports worth £6 billion to the UK economy and supporting a UK industry worth £58 billion annually. It’s further proof of how we can deliver economic security for hard-working people here in Britain by being an open, trade-minded nation and engaging with the world.

Trade deal with ASEAN

As the largest foreign investor in ASEAN, the EU should seize on this position to secure a new trade deal. Australia, Japan and China are already ahead of the game, having implemented free trade deals with the South East Asian bloc.

The Prime Minister’s call comes as the ASEAN countries prepare to establish an economic community by the end of this year. The UK will support these efforts by providing technical assistance to improve economic policy, planning and implementation. This will strengthen the business environment, increase the attractiveness of the region to international companies, and give a real boost to prosperity for the people of south east Asia. And as British businesses step up their interest in the region, this will help them invest and grow as the region does.

The PM has also appointed a Trade Envoy to the ASEAN Economic Community ahead of its launch at the end of the year. The UK is the first international partner to create such a role. Richard Graham MP, who will take on the role alongside his existing role as trade envoy to Indonesia, will join the Prime Minister for talks with the ASEAN Secretary General later today (27 July 2015).

The PM’s new Business Advisory Group has also been appointed: view details.

Published 27 July 2015