UK commitment to Indo-Pacific reaffirmed as global summit takes place in Singapore

London: Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and Foreign, Commonwealth, & Development Office (FCDO) Minister of State, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, met with global leaders in Singapore for the 20th Shangri-La Dialogue this week.

Their participation reconfirms the UK’s commitment to the Indo-Pacific, a region critical to the UK’s economy, security, and our commitment to an open and stable international order.

The Shangri-La Dialogue is Asia’s foremost defence summit for global leaders and ministers to debate the region’s most pressing security challenges with a series of plenary sessions and bilateral discussions.

During the Shangri-La Dialogue, the Defence Secretary addressed the audience, alongside ministers from Canada and the Philippines, focused on ‘Building a stable and balanced Asia-Pacific’ and regional cooperation.

In March, the Prime Minister announced a deal to join CPTPP – a trade bloc in the Indo-Pacific, which will now have a total GDP of £11 trillion. During his visit to Japan for G7 last month, almost £18 billion of new investment into the UK from Japanese businesses was announced by the Prime Minister, creating more well-paid jobs in the UK and helping grow the economy.

This is in addition to a new semiconductor partnership with Japan and critical minerals partnerships with Canada and Australia; and the Global Combat Air Programme with Japan and Italy, announced last year.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: “It has been a great pleasure to meet with my counterpart Dr Ng Eng Hen here in Singapore and to attend the Shangri-La Dialogue to meet defence ministers from across the Indo-Pacific. Singapore is a trading powerhouse that we have much in common with.

“We understand that Atlantic and Indo-Pacific security is indivisible and that upholding the rules-based order is a collective effort – that is why organisations like ASEAN are so important. This is why we have applied to join ADMM+, a demonstration of our commitment to strengthening defence and security in the Indo-Pacific. We are committed to promoting prosperity and stability in the region.”

Minister for the Indo-Pacific, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, said: “Euro-Atlantic and Indo-Pacific prosperity and security are tied more closely together than ever before, and we must work jointly to protect the rules-based international order to safeguard our futures.

The UK is committed to playing a full and active role in ensuring a free, safe and open Indo-Pacific, working with partners in ASEAN and beyond to tackle global challenges.”

Arriving in the region earlier this week, the Defence Secretary met with his Singapore counterpart, Defence Minister Dr Ng Eng Hen, on Friday. They discussed continued bilateral cooperation and our partnership through important groups including the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and Five Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA).

The Defence Secretary also held a series of bilateral meetings while in Singapore, with ministers from China, Indonesia, and New Zealand.

On Friday, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace visited the FPDA wharf at Sembawang Naval Installation where he met Commanders from Australia and New Zealand.

The UK and Singapore are both members of the FPDA, now in their 52nd year. Founded in 1971, the FPDA are a series of agreements between Australia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore and the UK, with the group seeking to strengthen defence and security in the Indo-Pacific and work together to promote stability in the region. Defence Ministers from FPDA nations met earlier today to discuss continued collaboration and strengthening the group.

In 2021, the UK was delighted to become an ASEAN Dialogue Partner, a political and economic union of 10 member states in Southeast Asia, including Singapore. The UK’s Dialogue Partner status was formalised in August 2021, the first dialogue partner ASEAN has included in 25 years.

That same year, the UK deployed Royal Navy ships HMS Spey and HMS Tamar to the Indo-Pacific, following a successful Carrier Strike Group deployment, as part of the UK’s commitment to regional peace and stability. The Prime Minister recently confirmed that the UK’s Carrier Strike Group will return to the region in 2025.

The summit follows a busy few months, during which the UK has taken concrete actions to take advantage of post-Brexit freedoms with an ambitious trade policy in the Indo-Pacific.

More than 1.7 million British citizens live in the Indo-Pacific and our trading relationships with the region were worth over £250bn in 2022. By 2030, the Indo-Pacific is expected to account for more than 40% of global GDP and the region is critical to the UK, to our economy, our security and our values, upholding the international rules and norms that underpin free trade, security and stability. With 60% of global trade passing though shipping routes in the Indo-Pacific, security there has a direct impact in households in the UK.