Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister of State, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, recently participated in the 20th Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore. Demonstrating the United Kingdom’s unwavering commitment to the Indo-Pacific region. This commitment extends to the region’s vital role in the UK’s economy, security, and the maintenance of an open and stable international order.
The Shangri-La Dialogue is widely regarded as Asia’s premier defence summit, bringing together global leaders and ministers to address pressing security challenges in the region. Through a series of plenary sessions and bilateral discussions, participants engage in debates and explore potential solutions to these challenges.
During the dialogue, Defence Secretary Wallace, alongside ministers from Canada and the Philippines, delivered a speech focused on “Building a Stable and Balanced Asia-Pacific.” And underscored the importance of regional cooperation. This highlights the UK’s dedication to fostering stability and equilibrium in the Asia-Pacific region.
In March, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced the UK’s intention to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), a trade bloc encompassing the Indo-Pacific. This move will contribute to a combined GDP of £11 trillion within the CPTPP. At the recent G7 summit in Japan, Prime Minister Sunak further announced almost £18 billion of new investments into the UK from Japanese businesses. These investments will create numerous well-paid jobs and stimulate economic growth. Showcasing the strong economic ties between the UK and Japan.
UK Strengthens Partnerships and Commitment to the Indo-Pacific Region
The UK has also established strategic partnerships and initiatives in the Indo-Pacific. Notably, a semiconductor partnership with Japan and critical minerals partnerships with Canada and Australia have been formed. Additionally, the UK is involved in the Global Combat Air Programme with Japan and Italy, announced in the previous year. These collaborations underscore the UK’s commitment to fostering innovation, trade, and security in the region.
During their visit to Singapore, Defence Secretary Wallace held bilateral meetings with ministers from China, Indonesia, and New Zealand. Further enhancing regional relationships. He also visited the Five Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA) wharf at Sembawang Naval Installation. Where he met with commanders from Australia and New Zealand. The UK and Singapore are both members of the FPDA, a group established in 1971 comprising Australia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, and the UK. The FPDA aims to strengthen defence and security in the Indo-Pacific while promoting regional stability.
The UK’s dialogue partnership with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), formalized in 2021, solidifies its commitment to the region. This year also marked the deployment of Royal Navy ships to the Indo-Pacific. And Prime Minister Sunak confirmed the return of the UK’s Carrier Strike Group to the region in 2025. These actions demonstrate the UK’s active role in promoting peace, stability, and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific.