Boosting economic cooperation to support recovery from COVID-19 takes priority at the first ever UK-ASEAN Economic Dialogue

16:34 | 27/08/2020 Vietnam - Asean

The first UK-ASEAN Economic Dialogue was held on August 26 to strengthen economic cooperation between the UK and ASEAN and bolster economic recovery efforts amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

The UK’s Secretary of State for International Trade Liz Truss cochaired the UK-ASEAN Economic Dialogue with 2020 Chair of the ASEAN Economic Community, Minister Tran Tuan Anh of Vietnam. The virtual economic dialogue marked the first formal economic engagement between ASEAN and the UK, and was attended by economic ministers and officials from the ten ASEAN member states as well as the ASEAN Secretary General, Dato Lim Jock Hoi.

boosting economic cooperation to support recovery from covid 19 takes priority at the first ever uk asean economic dialogue

The dialogue provided an important platform to further trade and bolster economic recovery efforts amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

It was a pleasure to co-chair the first ever UK-ASEAN economic dialogue, where we discussed building a framework for future economic collaboration. We want our relationship with the ASEAN region to strengthen and grow, continuing the partnership we have had for more than 40 years. The current crisis proves now more than ever the importance of international engagement and finding global solutions to global challenges" - said, Liz Truss, International Trade Secretary.

At the dialogue, the UK affirmed its support for ASEAN’s economic ambitions and commitment to strengthen the region’s resilience against the impact of COVID-19. In line with the views expressed in the Hanoi Plan of Action on Strengthening ASEAN Economic Cooperation and Supply Chain Connectivity in Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic, Ms Truss emphasised that free trade and resilient supply chains will be crucial to the global economic recovery as the crisis passes.

As part of a broader exchange of views on the impact of COVID-19 on supply chains and lessons learnt to develop further resilience in the future, the UK will work with ASEAN and the Economic Research of Institute of ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA) on research to help strengthen UK-ASEAN supply chains, to better understand their resilience and identify ways to further strengthen them in support of business and consumers.

The UK and ASEAN agreed that the current economic climate presents an opportunity to build a greener and more sustainable global economy, in line with the objectives of the Paris Agreement in advance of COP26, next year. Ms Truss outlined the critical opportunities that could enable countries to take an early adopter advantage in low-carbon as a response to COVID-19. She encouraged sustainable infrastructure investment and approaches to stimulate green growth as part of wider economic recovery plans.

The UK offered to further collaborate with the region on its plans to tap into low carbon growth opportunities, and to deliver sustainable and enduring infrastructure projects that boost connectivity in the region, in alignment with the Masterplan on ASEAN Connectivity 2025. The UK already provides technical assistance to develop green financial systems and energy efficiency across the ASEAN region, including through its £15-million Prosperity Fund Low Carbon Energy Programme and £12-million global Green Recovery Challenge Fund.

Beyond the immediate response to COVID-19, the UK also outlined future areas of ASEAN-UK economic collaboration, including nurturing digital innovation to help businesses in the region find a place in the burgeoning digital economy.

The UK will deepen its digital partnership with ASEAN through its Asia Pacific Digital Trade Network launched in June and by kick-starting a new UK-ASEAN Digital Business Challenge, exploring how tech Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) can deliver solutions to tough business challenges.

Moreover, the UK will continue to work closely with the ASEAN Business Advisory Council (ABAC) to develop a private sector regional digital trade connectivity roadmap, complementing the ASEAN Single Window programme which can lead to more facilitative trade within ASEAN and beyond. ASEAN's commitment to cohesiveness through the pandemic is evident in its plans to develop a robust, holistic and pragmatic post-pandemic recovery framework.

Nguyễn Hường