Anne-Marie Trevelyan addresses Shangri-La Dialogue, Singapore

Minister of State Anne-Marie Trevelyan spoke about security and stability in the Indo-Pacific at the 20th IISS Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore

The Rt Hon Anne-Marie Trevelyan MP

Good afternoon, it is a pleasure to be here in Singapore, and to join such a distinguished panel.

I am glad to have the opportunity to set out the ways in which the UK is deepening our cooperation with you, our partners in the Indo-Pacific. This work is important to us all, not just because this global growth hub plays a huge role in our shared security, freedom, and prosperity. But because of its central importance in tackling some of the most pressing global challenges – from climate change to managing the transformational impact of cutting-edge technologies such as AI.

The UK’s commitment to the Indo Pacific is already bearing fruit across trade, defence, climate action and more. We are delighted to be an ASEAN Dialogue Partner and to be well on the way to joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership.

We hugely value and respect the central role that ASEAN plays in promoting co-operation and shaping the wider Indo-Pacific regional order. In particular, ASEAN’s Outlook on the Indo-Pacific provides a clear and welcome steer on how we can best work together, underpinned by shared priorities such as transparency, respect for sovereignty and international law.

As a Dialogue Partner, and a country committed to multilateralism, the UK places huge importance on listening to others’ views and ensuring that we shape our approach. We know that these genuine, trusted partnerships are the key to success.

If we look at some of the minilateralist relationships in the region, around climate action, we are excited to be working with Indonesia and Vietnam who are demonstrating great leadership in implementing new Just Energy Transition Partnerships with international support, driving a clean energy future for the region.

On maritime co-operation, an area of particular importance to us as a maritime trading nation, we are developing, with our Southeast Asian partners, an ambitious programme to build capacity and boost training on vital issues from protecting the marine environment to upholding maritime law.

We are also making a practical contribution to the region’s maritime security today. In 2021, two Offshore Patrol Vessels, HMS Tamar and HMS Spey, began their long-term deployment to the Indo-Pacific.

These crews of young Royal Navy sailors have been discovering anew the maritime complexity of the region and building strong new bonds of friendship. We will deploy a Littoral Response Group to the region next year to add further support and depth to the UK’s commitment. And – following HMS Queen Elizabeth, our 5th generation aircraft carrier and her strike group’s visits in 2021 – we will be sending another Carrier Strike Group to the Indo-Pacific in 2025.

Meanwhile, on Myanmar, the UK has focused on uniting the international community behind support for the ASEAN Five Point Consensus – including the landmark UN Security Council Resolution agreed last December. We are proud to be the penholder at the UN and will continue to bring all our efforts to support solutions.

The complex challenges facing the Indo-Pacific require a multi-faceted response.

The UK respects and supports ASEAN’s central role, both in enabling cooperation between its members, and in anchoring the wider regional security architecture. Within our ASEAN Plan of Action, which is now up and running, are a series of practical ASEAN-wide programmes.  In addition, smaller groupings can also be effective in driving key issues more quickly.  For the UK, what is important is that these initiatives are guided by a shared vision and shared respect for the principles of openness, good governance, respect for sovereignty and respect for international law.

Whether we are engaging with our partners collectively, bilaterally or as part of a smaller group driving action on urgent issues, the UK’s commitment to transparency with ASEAN partners remains unwavering.

Perhaps most clearly, if we look at AUKUS – through which we are supporting Australia in their defence and security responsibilities, bringing our decades of experience to heed, and accelerating collaboration on advanced military technologies with them and the US.

Is it geopolitically significant? Yes. Is it an alliance? No. Does it support security and stability in the Indo-Pacific – a goal to which ASEAN is also committed? Absolutely.

This is why I was so pleased to see Indonesian President Widodo’s comments that AUKUS and the Quad are partners not competitors to ASEAN; we wholeheartedly agree.

Looking to the future, the UK is committed to playing an even fuller and more active role in promoting and supporting a free and open Indo-Pacific, alongside other ASEAN Dialogue Partners.

This is why we have applied to join the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting Plus and the ASEAN Regional Forum.

And we will continue to deepen our cooperation with ASEAN through our five-year plan of action which we launched last year, advancing our shared priorities on security, the economy and some of the biggest global challenges of our times. Together, we can continue to build a more stable, peaceful and prosperous future for all.

Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office
The Rt Hon Anne-Marie Trevelyan MP