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South-east Asia

Volume 614: debated on Thursday 8 September 2016

Our posts across the region are in frequent, regular contact with their host Governments. In my second week in the Department, I visited Burma and Thailand to promote trade and investment. Since the referendum, major Association of Southeast Asian Nations—ASEAN—economies have expressed an interest in discussing future trade relations with the UK. We have been clear that the UK will remain open for business and investment, and we are committed to strengthening our already excellent economic ties with the region.

I am grateful to the Minister for his answer, and I warmly welcome him to his place. As the vice-chairman of the all-party parliamentary group on Singapore, I also welcome the indication that Singapore is open to removing the barriers to trade between our countries. What discussions will he have to promote investment opportunities for UK businesses in Singapore and across south-east Asia?

I congratulate my hon. Friend on his important work for the all-party group on Singapore. The opportunities in ASEAN and Singapore are absolutely enormous. In the next 15 years, the members of ASEAN will make up the fourth biggest economy on the planet. We are in constant discussions, we have trade envoys going out to the region and we are very keen to open negotiations to promote trade between our countries.

It is almost exactly three years since the Government launched their action plan for business and human rights. When the Minister goes to countries such as Burma and Thailand, are human rights on the agenda during those trade talks as well as business?

The Government are never neglectful of their duty to ensure human rights around the world. There are two clear elements involved. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office is key on human rights and we will support it where we can by raising the issue when we are talking about trade.