Orient Magazine Issue 83 - August 2021 - Page 28

The UK finalises Dialogue Partner status with ASEAN
The UK has agreed on a new partnership with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations ( ASEAN ).
The partnership , which is the first ASEAN has agreed in 25 years , will lead to closer cooperation between the UK and the region on a range of issues such as trade , investment , climate change , the environment , science and technology , and education . Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab joined a virtual ceremony with ASEAN Foreign Ministers where they welcomed the UK as an ASEAN ‘ Dialogue Partner ’.
Since the UK submitted its application to become a Dialogue Partner in June 2020 , the Foreign Secretary has attended two UK-ASEAN Ministerial Meetings and hosted the ASEAN Chair at the G7 Foreign & Development Ministers meeting in May .
ASEAN is an influential group of ten member countries in the Indo-Pacific . The other ASEAN Dialogue Partners are Australia , Canada , China , the European Union , India , Japan , the Republic of Korea , New Zealand , Russia and the United States of America . By becoming a Dialogue Partner the UK will formalise its relations with the group - including through attending annual Foreign and Economic Ministers meetings along with other Ministerial engagements .
Dialogue Partner status puts the UK at the heart of the Indo-Pacific . The UK will work with ASEAN and its members on key shared challenges such as maritime security and transnational crime , boost our economies through trade , and strengthen our cooperation on issues such COVID-19 and climate change .
British High Commissioner to Singapore , Kara Owen , said :
" Being a Dialogue Partner is really important for the UK and ASEAN , and we have much we can accomplish together . So today is momentous .
Our partnership with Singapore and the issues we work on together are integral to how we are strengthening our ties with the region , from trade and investment , to tackling the economic and health challenges of Covid-19 , fighting climate change , and protecting Southeast Asia ’ s rich biodiversity .
I thank Singapore , its Ministers and officials , for their strong support of our engagement with ASEAN , especially as we progressed our Dialogue Partnership application ."
UK Board of Trade release Green Trade report
The UK ' s new Green Trade report outlines the role free trade and free-market can play in accelerating the global transition to a low-carbon economy , challenging green protectionism .
The report , the second released by the Board of Trade , shows how free markets are critical to tackling climate change , enabling the free flow of information and proliferation of green technology , challenging the narrative that free trade is a threat to the environment . It also addresses green protectionism , whereby environmental aims are used as a cover to enact damaging protectionist policies .
It recommends the UK leverages its trade agenda to speed up the global green transition by :
• promoting the UK ’ s green exports and technology overseas
• using the UK ’ s independent trade policy to reduce barriers to green trade and tackle environmentally damaging market distortions – such as industrial subsidies
• attracting foreign investment to build the UK ’ s green industrial base
The Board demonstrates how green trade presents a major economic opportunity for Britain that will drive high-value jobs and sustainable growth into every part of the country . The report encourages the UK to champion free trade and bring together the trade and climate agendas on the global stage .
Experts predict the UK ’ s low-carbon economy could grow by 11 % per year between 2015 and 2030 – four times faster than the rest of the economy – delivering between £ 60 billion and £ 170 billion of export sales in goods and services by 2030 . By 2050 , there could be more than 1.2 million full time workers directly employed in England ’ s low carbon industries . NEWS
29 SPECIAL FEATURE: THE FUTURE OF TRADE SINGAPORE CONTINUES TO DRAW BRITISH COMPANIES LOOKING FOR A REGIONAL HUB BritCham in the Press Singapore continues to draw British companies looking for a regional hub By Mindy Tan, The Business Times Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reprinted with permission According to David Kelly, Executive Direc- tor at the British Chamber of Commerce Singapore (BritCham), the Chamber's Trade Services team, which supports small and medium-sized British compa- nies looking to export products and ser- vices to Singapore, has helped around 90 companies since the UK-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (UKSFTA) was signed in December 2020. "Singapore is a country of 1's and 2's - the most competitive economy, number one in the Asia-Pacific for talent competitive- ness, number one in the Asia-Pacific for digital competitiveness and the second most connected country in the world - it is attractive for companies to base their regional hubs here, create jobs and utilise Singapore's connectivity with the rest of the ASEAN region," says Mr Kelly. Indeed, a poll conducted by the Chamber earlier this year showed that members continue to be interested in the ASEAN region, even despite resurgent waves of Covid-19 . The BritCham, which is 3,500 members strong from 320 member organisations, among other things offers a suite of services to British businesses considering expansion into Singapore. This covers the entire life cycle from early-stage interest to welcoming new entrants in-market. "It is common for our conversations with interested exporters to span beyond Singapore into South-east Asia, where our network of Britain in Southeast Asia (BiSEA) Chambers is ready to support exporting businesses," notes Mr Kelly, adding that Singapore continues to be perceived as the primary entry point for the region and a gateway to Asia. "It's not only about exports - Singapore plays an important role as a regional hub, and we help to connect businesses via the Britain in Southeast Asia (BiSEA) network. Programmes such as Singapore's SEA Manufacturing Alliance, launched by the Ministry for Trade and Industry - the agreement between EDB, Enterprise Singapore and private sector partners to promote a network of industrial parks to manufacturers who are interested to invest in both Singapore and the region, and we hope to help support programmes such as this," he notes. A strategic base Notably, the wider swath of European companies are also actively looking to expand in the region. Among the Europe- an corporates keen to tap Singapore for expansion opportunities, 77 per cent said they expect to leverage the city-state as a regional headquarters for their sales and marketing and corporate functions as they look to expand across ASEAN according to a survey commissioned by Standard Chartered. This is unsurprising given that within ASEAN, Singapore tops the exports des- tination list, receiving over a third of Eu- ropean exported goods (US$41.8 billion in 2020), noted Standard Chartered in its report, Borderless Business: Europe-ASE- AN corridor. Singapore was also notably the first ASEAN nation to have an FTA with the European Union (EU) when the EUSFTA was signed in 2018. Since being enforced in November 2019, goods exported from Singapore to the EU jumped 12 per cent in the first half of 2020, despite Covid-19 disruptions. Indeed, almost nine in 10 European com- panies (88 per cent) focusing on ASEAN said they expect business growth in the region over the next 12 months. These companies view Vietnam, Malaysia and Thailand as markets that will present the most expansion opportunities in the re- gion. For British companies specifically, the recent raft of agreements signed be- tween the two countries has been a boon. On June 30, the two countries announced they have agreed on a partnership for financial services which will allow for greater cooperation such as in enhanced information sharing and regulatory deference. "Singapore is a country of 1's and 2's - the most competitive economy, number one in the Asia-Pacific for talent competitiveness, number one in the Asia-Pacific for digital competitiveness and the second most connected country in the world." David Kelly, BritCham Executive Director Senior Minister Tharman Shanmuga- ratnam, who is also chairman of the Monetary Authority of Singapore, signed a memorandum of understanding with Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak. An additional memorandum of understanding on cybersecurity was also signed, providing a formal basis for cooperation between the UK and Singa- pore on the finance sector's cybersecu- rity, in order to improve the resilience of both nation's financial systems. This is in addition to the UK-Singapore Digital Economy Agreement (UKSDEA) - which will be the first such agreement between an Asian and a European country - which the two countries launched negotiations on on June 28. Indeed, the UK has been actively working to establish formal bilateral trade rela- tions since leaving the eurozone. The UKSFTA for instance, which kicked into effect from January this year, was designed to allow the UK to enjoy the same benefits it did under the EUSFTA. It is expected to be an additional platform for driving British exports into Singapore and allowing British companies to lever- age the city's growing regional connec- tivity to solidify their presence in ASEAN. Notably, some sectors that are receiving more attention than most include tech- nology and Internet-enabled businesses, financial services, and pharmaceutical and medical, points out Charles Fergu- son, General Manager, Asia-Pacific at Globalization Partners. "Singapore is the UK's largest trade and investment partner in South-east Asia. I think it rightfully deserves its hub status in the region for UK businesses. Giv- en Singapore's strategic geographical location and vital role as a financial and trading hub, the city-state gives the UK access to immense opportunities in this fast-growing region," he says. "We see this truth in our engagements with UK companies who are tapping our global expansion platform and employment solutions to get the best talent on board as they increase commercial ventures in territories like Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam. We see brisk expansion activities in sectors like tech- nology and Internet-enabled businesses, financial services, and pharmaceutical and medical, among others," he said. There has also been a notable uptick in FinTech activity, says Mike Rourke, head of digital onboarding, digital chan- nels and data analytics, commercial, corporate and institutional banking at Standard Chartered, and Chair of the BritCham Financial & FinTech Committee. "The UK and Singapore are incubators for some of the leading and fastest-growing FinTechs globally. Members are seeing not only an increase in innovative Fin- Techs but also are driving up their active partnerships and collaboration with them to support their business strategy," he says. One example of this is Tech Nation, a growth platform for tech companies focused on accelerating the growth of digital businesses in the UK. Max Pourrat, head of Asia-Pacific at Tech Nation, says: "South-east Asia's digital economy hit US$100 billion in 2020 and is expected to grow to US$300 billion by 2025 - and Sin- gapore is at the heart of it. With a rapidly evolving tech ecosystem, Singapore is an attractive hub for UK scale-ups to access the huge opportunity in South-east Asia and the wider region, which is why Tech Nation has also recently set up our Asia-Pacific headquarters here." Tech Nation has already led the first co- hort of International Growth Programmes in Singapore, alongside Australia, Japan and South Korea, with 30 UK scale-ups joining the programme. Due to high demand, an additional 45 companies are also receiving support on their go- to-market strategies and international fundraising tactics to ensure their inter- national readiness. This article first appeared on The Busi- ness Times Global Enterprise. Global Enterprise is a collaboration between The Business Times and Standard Chartered. The series of articles aims to inform and update Singapore business- es keen to expand overseas, and vice versa. The topics covered include but are not limited to investment and business conditions in various relevant markets, issues like global taxes, labour talent and property news. For more Global En- terprise articles go to bt.sg/global. SPECIAL FEATURE: THE FUTURE OF TRADE SINGAPORE CONTINUES TO DRAW BRITISH COMPANIES LOOKING FOR A REGIONAL HUB