LONDON (Reuters) – Britain has been granted “dialogue partner” status by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, a step forward in London’s efforts to boost relations diplomatic relations in Asia after its exit from the European Union.
Britain has applied for the status as part of its post-Brexit policy shift to focus more on high-growth economies in Asia and the Indo-Pacific, and away from the EU it has left in 2020.
“We have agreed to grant the UK ASEAN Dialogue Partner status in view of its individual relationship with ASEAN and its past cooperation and engagement with ASEAN when it was a member. of the European Union,” said a statement released by ASEAN. at its last meeting.
ASEAN includes Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. The group maintains close diplomatic ties with other world powers, including the EU, US and China, and is seen by many as an important forum for discussing geopolitical issues.
The United States sees ASEAN as key to its efforts to resist China’s growing influence in Asia.
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But the group, whose members are bound by a code not to interfere in the affairs of others, has recently been criticized by some politicians and rights activists in the region for being nothing more than a discussion.
Becoming a Dialogue Partner gives Britain high-level access to ASEAN summits. The UK government hopes it will also spur deeper practical cooperation on issues such as climate change and regional stability.
Britain has also applied to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade deal it hopes will open up new markets for goods and services and strengthen existing trade ties.
(Reporting by William James; editing by Guy Faulconbridge, Alistair Smout and Nick Macfie)
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