Orient Magazine Issue 83 - August 2021 | Page 26


How the UK Government is Championing Free Trade

All of us at the High Commission are conscious of what a difficult time it has been for the British community in Singapore over the last 18 months . And we are impressed by the enormous resilience you have shown .
I know that most of you will have planned for family reunions and holidays first over Christmas , and then again during the summer . Many of you will have had to revise your plans yet again , and we don ’ t know at this point when travel restrictions will finally be lifted .
Both the High Commissioner and I continue to engage with the Singapore Government to explore options for the return of safe travel . The recent easing of some restrictions here is giving me more optimism than I have had for some time that we will return to something that feels more normal but it is still a difficult situation .
While hurdles remain , my job as Her Majesty ’ s Trade Commissioner for Asia Pacific is to ensure that the UK Government continues to open doors to opportunity for UK businesses in this exciting , fast-growing and competitive region .
We continue to see UK business partnerships in this part of the world go from strength to strength . Last year alone , UK trade with Asia Pacific reached £ 92.9 billion , and we are not content to stop there .
From trade agreements , such as the recent UK-Singapore FTA , to targeted support for individual companies alongside partners such as the British Chamber of Commerce , the UK Government is working hard across the region to support UK business where our support can make most difference .
Our geostrategic tilt
The Indo-Pacific region is the world ’ s growth engine : home to half the world ’ s people ; 40 % of global GDP ; some of the fastest-growing economies ; at the forefront of new global trade arrangements ; leading and adopting digital and technological innovation and standards ; investing strongly in renewables and green tech ; and vital to our goals for investment and resilient supply chains . It already accounts for 17.5 % of UK global trade and 10 % of inward Foreign Direct Investment , and we are working to build this further , including through new trade agreements , dialogues and deeper partnerships in science , technology and data .
We know the pandemic has depressed trade flows around the world , but the UK ’ s two-way trade with South East Asia increased by 50 % between 2009 and 2019 to over £ 40 billion , which represents a strong foundation for future growth . And while there is still a lot more to do , we are excited to now be a Dialogue Partner of ASEAN , and will use this to advance our economic cooperation at a regional as well as bilateral level .
Our progress doesn ’ t stop there . In June , the UK formally launched accession negotiations with Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans Pacific Partnership ( CPTPP ) nations , pivoting Britain towards some of the world ’ s biggest economies of the present and future .
As one of the largest free trade areas in the world , it ’ s worth £ 9 trillion in GDP in 2019 . By 2030 , our exports to this region are forecast to be at £ 37 billion and growing .
Membership will also give us a new and powerful means of en-