JAKARTA, 28 July 2015 – Prime Minister David Cameron made a historic visit to the ASEAN Secretariat yesterday, pledging to deepen the UK’s economic ties with the region.

In welcoming the Prime Minister, H.E. Le Luong Minh, Secretary-General of ASEAN, said the visit reflected the UK’s commitment and political will to deepen its relations with ASEAN. He stated that the UK’s keen interest in strengthening economic relations augurs well with the region’s drive towards greater economic integration.

Secretary-General Minh updated the British leader on the progress made in realising the ASEAN Community by the end of this year, highlighting key achievements and challenges that need to be addressed. With a combined GDP of nearly US$2.6 trillion in 2014, he highlighted that ASEAN is currently the 7th largest economy in the world and is on track to become the 4th largest by 2050.

Prime Minister Cameron commended the progress made in realising the ASEAN Community which would bring about tangible benefits to the region and beyond. In this regard, he said that the UK will step up its economic engagement by exploring cooperation in areas such as infrastructure development and e-commerce. The British leader said he would appoint a special envoy for trade to facilitate trade and investment relations between ASEAN and the UK.

Secretary-General Minh and Prime Minister Cameron exchanged views on a number of regional and international issues that affect peace and stability. In stressing the importance of making the region a nuclear weapons free zone, Secretary-General Minh said ASEAN has called upon all Nuclear Weapons States (NWS) to accede to the Protocol of the Treaty on the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapons Free Zone. Therefore, the recognition and support of NWS of this endeavour is of paramount importance to ASEAN.

Secretary-General Minh and Prime Minister Cameron also discussed the issue of South China Sea, agreeing on the importance of efforts towards a peaceful solution in accordance with international law and the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and ASEAN ‘s Six Points Principles.

In conjunction with the visit, an ASEAN-UK business forum was convened at the ASEAN Secretariat. The event was participated in by high-level government and business leaders and representatives of key British companies with investment interests in ASEAN.