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UK-ASEAN Dialogue Partnership Paves Way to Potential Future Trade Accord

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Since leaving the European Union, the government of the United Kingdom has pivoted toward Southeast Asia and its regional bloc, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), recognizing it as one of the key dynamic economic regions of the world. The U.K.’s new partnership with ASEAN fosters an environment supportive of increased trade flows, secure supply chains, expanded cross-border investments, and generally sustainable development.

Other initiatives are also aimed at establishing a long term strategic program of mutual economic support across a wide range of important sectors. In light of this extensive cooperation, it raises the question over whether one of its principal objectives is in ultimately forging a U.K.-ASEAN free trade agreement – an accord which has eluded most major Western economies thus far.

Over the last couple of years, the U.K. has been engaged in a comprehensive and detailed plan of action in developing economic and political relations with ASEAN. This has been undertaken in multiple graduated stages, beginning with the negotiation of EU continuity agreements with Singapore and Vietnam, which have since evolved into new more advanced trade partnerships involving data and digital services and other aspects of greater trade facilitation. The U.K. is also carrying out trade reviews with Indonesia and Thailand to conclude potential bilateral agreements, while discussing market access to Malaysia.

As part of a broader regional trade initiative, the U.K. launched accession negotiations with the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) trade pact, which brings together 11 Asia-Pacific nations, including the four ASEAN states of Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Brunei. These states could be key players in supporting Britain’s bid to become the first country to join the CPTPP since its founding in 2018.

Perhaps somewhat less prominent on the radar has been the U.K.’s success in establishing an economic and political partnership of........

© The Diplomat

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