Home / Asia / Commentary: Brexit is bringing a UK behind to Southeast Asia. Will Asian countries buy it?

Commentary: Brexit is bringing a UK behind to Southeast Asia. Will Asian countries buy it?

LONDON: As a United Kingdom deduction to leave a European Union, a Conservative Party supervision is bustling compelling an general temperament for itself underneath a ensign of “Global Britain”. 

It is enunciating an “All of Asia” policy — evidently to vigilance that London is penetrating to rivet all countries in a wider East Asia region, large and small. 

Emboldened by a faith that it already has clever shared family with many Southeast Asian countries, London envisions a destiny in that a United Kingdom creates a suggestive grant to informal security, wealth and development. 

The problem is that Southeast Asia does not nonetheless seem to caring much.


The UK supervision has several objectives in Southeast Asia. 

For starters, a United Kingdom needs to strengthen a trade family in Southeast Asia to assistance equivalent a hurdles it might face in a destiny mercantile and trade attribute with Europe. It also wants to be taken severely as a standing quo energy that is prepared to urge a rules-based general order. 

Further objectives upsurge naturally from a United Kingdom’s exit from a European Union, such as substantiating a grave attribute with ASEAN.

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European Union flags are seen outward a EU Commission domicile in Brussels, before to a assembly between Britain’s Secretary of State for Exiting a EU Dominic Raab and EU’s arch Brexit adjudicator Michel Barnier, Belgium Oct 14, 2018. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir/File Photo

The discuss within Southeast Asia on London’s purpose in a segment is still in a early stages. Southeast Asian signatories to a Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership have not articulated a common position on a United Kingdom’s probable membership. 

Meanwhile ASEAN has not simplified what position, if any, members reason per a probability of discourse partnership status. And while Western analysts offer both vicious and understanding arguments in propinquity to a United Kingdom’s probable lapse to Southeast Asia as a troops power, a segment has nonetheless to embark on a contention of either such a lapse to “East of Suez” would be welcomed.


Some Southeast Asian governments seem set to acquire a stronger UK joining to a region. Singapore is looking brazen to signing a trade understanding with a United Kingdom once it leaves a European Union, after signing a UK–Singapore Defence Cooperation Memorandum of Understanding in June.

Other ASEAN countries still demeanour during their family with a United Kingdom by a prism of a European Union. 

The United Kingdom is an critical marketplace for ASEAN imports within a EU-28, ranking third for products and second for services. But UK marketplace share in ASEAN-4 (Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam) is usually around 1 per cent, and there is small expectancy that this will change soon.

London’s eagerness to re-engage militarily in Southeast Asia, and a upkeep of a near-permanent naval participation in a Asia Pacific in 2018 with a deployment of HMS Sutherland, HMS Albion and HMS Argyll, have been duly noted. 

A perspective shows a front rug of a HMS Sutherland, a frigate of a British Royal Navy, during Mina Zayed pier in Abu Dhabi Jun 28, 2011. (Photo: REUTERS/Jumana El Heloueh)

But this larger troops joining follows a duration of family deficiency from a region, notwithstanding a United Kingdom’s purpose in a Five Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA). 

ASEAN supervision officials seem uncertain as to because London is deliberation a lapse as a troops energy and what it would wish to achieve, while also introspective either a United Kingdom’s newly demonstrated seductiveness in a continual naval participation is sustainable.


Developing a grave discourse partnership between ASEAN and a United Kingdom is also not straightforward. 

ASEAN states would need to be swayed that it is in their best seductiveness to concede a United Kingdom to contention an focus notwithstanding a duration in place, and to bypass other field during some domestic and reputational cost. 

ASEAN members would also need to determine by accord on a United Kingdom apropos a discourse partner, that is an outcome that can't be taken for granted.

The United Kingdom should cruise either a family with ASEAN countries have adequate coherence. 

Espousing an “All of Asia” policy suggests that Southeast Asian states will be taken seriously. But it stays usually a tag of inclusivity rather than shorthand for suggestive substance. 

At a moment, a United Kingdom seems to have opposite priorities for particular states in a region. These might simulate UK values and interests, though it is not transparent that there is an overarching account underneath that specific policies towards particular ASEAN states are convincingly subsumed.

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While London has left to some lengths to strengthen trade family and rivet a UK private zone in a interests in Southeast Asia, it might wish to extend larger support to informal embassies and high commissions to brand opportunities of seductiveness with their Southeast Asian counterparts. 

File print of ASEAN dwindle and flags of ASEAN member countries. (Photo: AFP/Romeo Gacad)

Bilateral corner trade commissions would assistance to promulgate London’s trade process with larger clarity, while facilitating discourse on destiny trade arrangements and identifying areas of investment that are of seductiveness to ASEAN governments. 

Such moves would be welcomed by governments in a segment and element a Jun 2018 appointment of a UK Trade Commissioner for Asia Pacific.

The United Kingdom also needs to explain a meditative about London’s probable grant to informal sequence vis-a-vis informal counterparts. This necessitates larger investment in dedicated diplomacy. 

In parallel, a postulated and unchanging troops participation to support discourse efforts should extend to a shared turn and not be singular to a FPDA. A comparatively easy step to cruise is a facilitation of troops sell programmes.

The United Kingdom has a intensity to settle itself as a applicable energy in Southeast Asia, though progressing movement in a ongoing re-engagement with a segment seems crucial, including additional efforts to explain intentions and to build trust. 

Achieving this idea is also partially contingent on a United Kingdom stability to conclude a contours and piece of a awake and impressive unfamiliar process that speaks to a interests of Southeast Asia.

Dr Juergen Haacke is associate highbrow in general family and former Director of a Saw Swee Hock Southeast Asia Centre during a London School of Economics and Political Science. John Harley Breen is a researcher during a Department of International Relations during a same university.

This explanation initial seemed on East Asia Forum. Read it here.

Article source: https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/commentary/united-kingdom-britain-southeast-asia-brexit-dyson-10921312