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Event Report: UK-ASEAN Relations IdeasLab


On 6th July 2023 the ‘UK- ASEAN Relations: Towards sustainable, enduring, and equitable partnerships’ IdeasLab took place at the Asia Centre in Bangkok, Thailand. Supported by the Centre for Global Security Challenges, University of Bristol’s Global Insecurities Centre, and the Yokosuka Council for Asia-Pacific Studies, the IdeasLab brought together 30 practitioners and researchers working in government, research and civil society sectors across Southeast Asia. It discussed UK engagement with the region, and served as a follow up to an earlier event in Bristol on implementing the UK’s Indo-Pacific tilt and Southeast Asia.

The rationale for the workshop is that there has been significant focus on the strategic side of the tilt, but less focus on functional areas of cooperation. Exploring what the UK is doing, what is working well, and what could be improved, with those working in the region, is necessary to ascertain whether the UK can achieve its goals and meet its developmentalist offer.
This report outlines the key findings of the event and provides policy recommendations for the UK government to promote its aims of deepening partnerships with ASEAN and its members consistent with the ASEAN-UK Plan of Action. It finds the UK has set out the right priorities and frameworks for engagement in Southeast Asia. It now needs to translate these into concrete programmes and develop relationships at different scales to produce sustainable and equitable partnerships. The UK’s offer of patient development needs to be matched through patient, proactive, and inclusive diplomacy to ensure relations have depth as well as breadth. The report identifies specific sectors where the UK could realize this, as well as provides a broader set of policy recommendations.

The event report can be downloaded here