Written evidence submitted by the FCDO (TIP0021)

 

FCDO Written Memorandum Integrated Review: Tilt to the Indo-Pacific: Summary Page

The UK is implementing an ambitious tilt to the Indo-Pacific as agreed through the Integrated Review. The UK is committed to the region for the long term, making our country safer, wealthier and more competitive, and standing up for our values. We will promote freedom, democracy and good governance across the region and globally.

The UK continues to work with Indo-Pacific partners, bilaterally, multilaterally and in minilateral groupings, to build stronger economic partnerships, backed with closer defence, security and intelligence ties to promote an open and secure Indo-Pacific.

This initial evidence explains the context; the strategic framework for UK engagement in the region; gives an overview of our important partnerships; and explains how Indo-Pacific tilt implementation fits into wider work on Integrated Review delivery.   

The National Security Council (NSC) oversees delivery of the Integrated Review. The Indo-Pacific tilt is one of the Integrated Review sub-strategies, led by the Foreign Secretary. FCDO DG Indo-Pacific, Jenny Bates, has been appointed as Senior Reporting Officer for work on the Indo-Pacific across government.

Since publication of the Integrated Review in March 2021, the UK has made significant progress against Indo-Pacific tilt objectives.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office: Written evidence in response to the Foreign Affairs Committee’s inquiry into Implementing the Integrated Review: Tilt to the Indo-Pacific

 

1.     The Indo-Pacific matters to the UK.  It is critical to our economy, our security and our values. The Indo-Pacific will become even more important to the UK in all these areas over the next decade. We are therefore committing ourselves to the region for the long term, making our country safer, wealthier and more competitive, and standing up for our values.

 

2.     The UK is strengthening our relationships to promote an open and secure Indo-Pacific. That includes working with like-minded countries to build strong economic partnerships with the Indo-Pacific’s largest and fastest growing economies, bilaterally through Free Trade Agreements as well as through accession to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP)We are positioning the UK at the heart of an unrivalled global network of economic, diplomatic, technology and security partnerships, which deliver for British businesses and British people, bringing jobs and investment home to level-up every region and nation of the UKThe Foreign Secretary’s week-long visit to Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia underscores this and our intention to deepen economic and security links with these increasingly influential countries. We are actively and proactively engaged in the Indo-Pacific, partnering with established global economic superpowers and technology leaders, as well as using our newfound freedom to position ourselves alongside the next generation, engaging with emerging markets in the Indo-Pacific to help them secure the right investment to grow economically open, secure, thriving economies.

 

3.     We are building strong security ties in this region, and around the world, and we will be hard-headed in defending our interests.  Our new security partnership with Australia and the US – AUKUS – is a sign of things to come, and we will build on this with further partnerships.  Defence and security co-operation is being strengthened, including in cyber security and maritime security, as well as through a persistent military presence with regular exercises, building on the successful deployment to the Indo-Pacific of the HMS Queen Elizabeth and her Carrier Strike Group. 

 

4.     We will be a fierce champion of freedom, promoting good governance and the values of democracy and freedom.

 

The strategic framework for our engagement

 

5.     The Integrated Review provides a strategic framework for UK engagement with the Indo-Pacific, for economic opportunities, for our security and for our valuesThe UK will promote freedom, democracy and good governance across the region and globally. We continue to build a more competitive and confident Britain by strengthening our economic and security ties, thereby ensuring we challenge malign actors from a position of strength.

 

(a)  for economic opportunities – the Indo-Pacific is the world’s growth engine: home to half the world’s people; 40% of global GDP; some of the fastest-growing economies and tech superpowers; at the forefront of new global trade arrangements; leading and adopting digital and technological innovation and standards; investing strongly in renewables and green tech; and vital to our goals for investment and resilient supply chains. The Indo- Pacific already accounts for 17.5% of UK global trade and 10% of inward FDI and we are building this further, including through new trade agreements, dialogues and deeper partnerships in science, technology and data. As we tilt to the Indo-Pacific, we are harnessing the UK’s strength as a positive, proactive and patriotic nation, assured in our ability to innovate, compete, lead and deliver for the businesses and people of the UK. We continue to cement our place as the number one global hub for tech, services and advanced manufacturing.

 

The UK sees accession to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership as central to our future economic engagement with this region. We are further cementing our close ties with these advanced economies and helping define the high quality trading rules that will shape the future of this high growth region, including to ensure technology standards and advances are shaped by the free world rather than authoritarian regimes. This is complemented closely by the progress we have made towards concluding and implementing bilateral free trade agreements with Australia, Japan and New Zealand, as well as an Enhanced Trade Partnership with India as a stepping stone towards a comprehensive trade deal.  We are aligning Indo-Pacific inward investment with the UK’s levelling-up agenda by securing increased investment outside London, supporting regional resilience and employment growth.  And across our partnerships we are strengthening supply chain resilience of critical goods and raw materials. 

 

(b)  for our security – the region is at the centre of intensifying geopolitical competition with multiple potential flashpoints: from unresolved territorial disputes; to nuclear proliferation and miscalculation; to climate change and non-state threats from terrorism and Serious and Organised Crime. It is on the frontline of new security challenges, including in cyberspace. Much of the UK’s trade with Asia depends on shipping that goes through a range of Indo-Pacific choke points. Preserving freedom of navigation is therefore essential to the UK’s national interests. We already work closely with regional partners and, as outlined in the Defence Command Paper[1], the UK Government will do more through consistent and persistent engagement in the Indo-Pacific by our armed forces and our wider security capacity-building.

 

The deployment of HMS Queen Elizabeth and her Carrier Strike Group (CSG) to the Indo-Pacific demonstrated the UK’s capability and intent, and was welcomed warmly by our partners throughout the regionSince July 2021, the CSG has: made high profile visits to Republic of Korea, Japan, Singapore and India, interacted with a range of ASEAN States and participated in major exercises with allies and partners. The CSG deployment has enhanced the UK’s deep and enduring defence relationships including the Five Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA, consisting of the UK, Australia, Malaysia, New Zealand and Singapore), and our ongoing international commitments to UN operations. In September 2021, the CSG escort ship, HMS Richmond, conducted maritime surveillance operations in the East China Sea to support UN sanctions efforts targeted against the DPRK’s Weapons of Mass Destruction and ballistic missile programmes. In July and October 2021, the CSG navigated the South China Sea between planned activities and on 27 September, the escort vessel HMS Richmond navigated the Taiwan Strait on route to Vietnam. These passages were in accordance with our rights under UNCLOS.  The CSG deployment has been followed directly by the long-term deployment of two River Class warships.  Our engagement in broader maritime security capacity building continues, alongside cyber security capacity-building.  

 

The 2030 Roadmap on India future relations, agreed at Prime Ministerial level in May 2021, includes a commitment to improve maritime cooperation through a partnership in the Western Indian Ocean and a new Maritime Dialogue. The UK and India held an inaugural Maritime dialogue on 18 October 2021. The UK has provided additional personnel to the FPDA’s Integrated Air Defence Headquarters and the United Nations Command in Korea. We are also establishing a new Defence Staff based in Canberra to cover the Oceania region.

 

The UK recognises that China’s military modernisation and assertiveness within the Indo-Pacific poses an increasing challenge and risk to UK interests. The growth of China’s navy, already the largest in the world, is outpacing all competitors. China is set to have as many as five aircraft carriers by 2030 as well as up to four light helicopter carriers, supported by a growing fleet of destroyers. The UK continues to work with partners to respond to the challenges China poses, including where we must defend our national security and values. China has become increasingly assertive in its maritime disputes with neighbours. In the East China Sea, the UK is aware of longer and more assertive patrols by the Chinese Coastguard into Japanese claimed territorial waters. In the South China Sea (SCS), we remain disturbed by militarisation and reports of coercion and intimidation. Our commitment is to international law, in particular the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and to freedom of navigation and overflight. The UK expressed our serious concern about the situation in the East and South China Seas with G7 Foreign Ministers in May 2021 and we remain closely engaged on the issue with Indo-Pacific partners, such as Japan, including via Ministerial discussions. On 3 September 2020, the then Minister for Asia put our legal analysis on the South China Sea on public record for the first time, objecting to Chinese claims we consider inconsistent with UNCLOS. We have reiterated this subsequently: in an E3 Note Verbale to the UN’s Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (16 September 2020), at the UNGA Law of the Sea debate (8 December 2020) and during a Defence Secretary speech in Vietnam (23 July 2021).

 

The UK’s longstanding position on Taiwan has not changed. We remain concerned by any activity that raises tension in the region and risks destabilising the status quo and we continue to voice our concerns in concert with like-minded partners. We consider the Taiwan issue one to be settled peacefully through constructive dialogue, and in line with the views of the people on both sides of the Strait.

 

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) continues to destabilise the region.  The UK is committed to securing peace and security on the Korean peninsula. We remain the most engaged non-regional partner on DPRK’s denuclearisation and on sanctions enforcement.  The UK is at the forefront of an international effort to dismantle and verify the North Korea programme. We are supporting the US policy on DPRK to pursue a “calibrated and practical” approach towards the goal of complete, verifiable and irreversible abandonment of all of the DPRK’s unlawful weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programmes. The UK continues to work closely with the US and other partners on DPRK to achieve this goal.

 

(c)   for our valuesas a global leader in development, we are deepening and expanding our partnerships to promote free enterprise, freedom, democracy and good governance from a position of strength. The UK will continue to uphold the international rules and norms that underpin free trade, security and stability. We will deliver humanitarian support to those in need, and remain committed to development in a region that is home to one-third of the world’s poorest people. We are working closely with like-minded bilateral and multilateral partners, including on global priorities such as girls education and tackling climate change.

 

The promotion of girls’ education is a core priority across the Indo-Pacific; it is also one of the best ways to support economic development. In July 2021, the UK hosted the Global Education Summit, raising over $4 billion of funds for the Global Partnership for Education (GPE). This contributed towards the response to COVID-19, re-opening of schools and improving overall the quality of girls’ education in the Indo-Pacific. The UK is the largest bilateral donor to the GPE and contributes towards the GPE “Multiplier” which supports countries in leveraging more funding for education. The following Indo-Pacific countries have accessed the Multiplier: Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, Timor-Leste, Lao PDR, Cambodia, and Nepal, with interest from Vietnam, Indonesia and the Philippines. 

 

We are leading the global fight against climate change, with strong domestic actions and global leadership through our Presidency of COP26.  The Indo-Pacific has a unique mix of vulnerability to climate change.  Climate is a major factor in non-traditional security threats in the Indo-Pacific and globally, including food insecurity, displacement, migration and conflict. COP26 showed positively the importance of collaborating with Indo-Pacific partners to make a substantial impact on our climate goals. Prime Minister Johnson spoke with leaders of 15 countries at COP26, including Indo-Pacific countries: Japan, India and Indonesia. Seven FCDO Ministers conducted more than 200 engagements with 100 countries. The Foreign Secretary spoke to 30 countries during the Summit to further bilateral objectives, including Indo-Pacific partners such as Fiji, India and the Republic of Korea. Amongst several announcements, the Prime Minister launched the Clean Green Initiative (CGI) to support the rollout of sustainable infrastructure and revolutionary green technology in developing countries, helping to tackle climate change and boost economic growth. This initiative is a key part of the UK’s contribution to the Build Back Better World initiative announced at the G7 Carbis Bay Summit in June 2021.

6.     The UK has a duty to make sure we are financing honest and reliable infrastructure for our partners with no strings attached. Through our Build Back Better World initiative, the UK will boost economic, development and security ties with allies to challenge malign actors and exert more global influence. Our alternative financing model will be characterised by high standards, transparency and reliability. It will deliver for people here in the UK – investments abroad, for example, will generate export opportunities in the UK, creating jobs across the country. That is the best way to get investment where it is needed most worldwide, while supporting jobs and growth in Britain.

 

7.     The UK is driving this agenda forward by reforming our development budget in FCDO, offering tailored packages of finance, technical assistance and technology transfer. On 25 November 2021, the Foreign Secretary set out her vision for economic partnerships that drive honest and responsible investment.  This ambition will see new British tools and programmes developed, operating coherently alongside existing efforts and our G7 partners to scale up honest financing for infrastructure and enterprise. The initiative will deliver bilateral development finance investments, alongside guarantees, technical assistance, tech transfer and concessional financing to provide and mobilise up to £8bn of UK-backed financing a year by 2025. Central to this plan is CDC Group, the UK’s Development Finance Institution. Alongside the wider UK initiative, the Foreign Secretary launched a new name for CDC – British International Investment (BII), (rebranded from April 2022), new chair and new ambition. As part of its new ambitious strategy, BII will scale investment in sustainable infrastructure and enterprise to provide clean, honest and reliable financing into low and middle-income countries across Africa, Asia and the Caribbean. In addition to investing in Africa, BII will pivot towards Asia – entering new markets in the Indo-Pacific – and the Caribbean. It will invest across sectors in projects like solar power, digital solutions and disaster-resilient infrastructure, co-investing with allies to scale impact.

 

8.     One third of FCDO bilateral ODA in Financial Year 2021 will be spent in the Indo-Pacific and South Asia in support of the UK’s deeper engagement and enhanced focus in the region. By 2024, the UK will have moved a substantial amount of our bilateral ODA in the Indo-Pacific away from grant aid for basic services, towards investments in open economies and societies. Few countries in the region are aid dependent but 235 million people in the region continue to live in extreme poverty (a third of global total), with the pandemic denting progress.

 

9.     FCDO’s 2021/22 planned country allocations (budgets) for the Indo-Pacific were published in our Annual Report in 2021On current plans, the FCDO will deliver approximately £9.3bn of UK ODA in 2022/23, growing to £10bn in 2024/25.   The FCDO will increase our bilateral ODA programming over this period, targeting where we can make the most difference. The full shape of the UK’s future development offer will be set out in a new International Development Strategy to be published in spring this year. 

 

10. The UK’s global objective of sustaining strategic advantage through Science and Technology, made clear in the Integrated Review, is reflected across the Indo-Pacific tilt.  We will leverage and deepen our science and technology partnerships in the region to boost economic growth and prosperity, enhance defence and security and shape the international rules-based system, including the importance of science for development. The UK will continue to form a coalition of tech revolutionaries with like-minded partners across the region and globally to uphold our values of freedom, democracy and good governance. We will work together to guarantee global standards, such as the free flow of data and uphold freedom of speech.  The definition of future regional and global technology standards will be integral to this approach. The UK is also working closer with like-minded partners to push new frontiers of innovation in areas like AI and quantum computing, and with radical regulatory reform in financial services, digital and data. Together, we are leading the way, including on the breakthroughs of tomorrow like 6G and beyond. This approach will not just bring home opportunities for the British people in the industries of the future, but also bring about a safer and more prosperous world.

 

Partnerships

 

11. The Integrated Review makes clear the UK’s ambition to be the European partner with the broadest and most integrated presence in the Indo-Pacific. The UK is building stronger economic partnerships across the Indo-Pacific, backed with closer defence, security and intelligence ties to strengthen our resilience and competitiveness, maintain peace and stability in the region and offer attractive alternatives on trade, development and infrastructure investment. We are deepening our engagement with Indo-Pacific partners, bilaterally, multilaterally and in minilateral groupings. We are using new as well as existing relationships to achieve our aims, seeking closer ties with our friends and allies in the region, including ASEAN and its members, Australia, India, Japan, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea and our vital strategic partner, the United States. The announcement of AUKUS – an enhanced trilateral partnership with Australia and the US –is clear demonstration of our long-term commitment to deepen co-operation and engagement in the Indo-Pacific. The UK has made clear its full support for the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific.  We are working closely with European partners such as France and Germany, including through the G7, and we welcome the EU strategy for cooperation in the Indo-Pacific. There is clear scope for continued alignment between UK and EU engagement in the region in critical sectors. Alongside areas of clear complementarity, the UK recognises that partners and allies are also competitors in some fields, most notably trade and investment.

 

Bilateral

 

12. Australia: The UK and Australia have an exceptionally close partnership based on shared history, values and people-to-people connections. UK-Australia collaboration, bilaterally, but also as a Five Eyes Partner, G20 (and as a recent guest at the G7), Commonwealth and at the UN, supports our freedom and democracy priorities and strengthens peace and stability in the region. At the G7 Summit in June 2021, Australian Prime Minister Morrison welcomed close co-operation with the UK on regional security challenges, including maritime threats, and climate change. UK and Australian forces exercise jointly with other nations in the Indo-Pacific, including with those party to the Five Power Defence Arrangements and in concert with the UK Carrier Strike Group visit to the region. The new AUKUS partnership embodies a strategic commitment to closer and enduring collaboration with Australia and the US. It will help Australia acquire nuclear-powered submarines and defend their territorial waters. This partnership focuses on interoperability, commonality and mutual benefit. The announcement of the Australia-UK Free Trade Agreement (AUKFTA) on 17 December 2021 is a significant and important step to enhance economic opportunities in both countries. The FTA is a world-class partnership and will help Australians wanting to buy high-quality British goods or services. It is expected to unlock £10.4billion of additional trade between the two countries, boosting both economies. The deal is further a demonstration of the UK and Australia working more closely together on AI, cybersecurity, and low-emissions technology. The UK is working with Australia to tackle climate change bilaterally, multilaterally and in minilateral groupings.  The UK welcomes Australia’s commitment to net zero by 2050. The Infrastructure for Resilient Island States fund, announced at COP26, is jointly supported by Australia, India and the UK[2]. Alongside twelve other finance providers, Australia has committed to achieving a balance in climate finance spent on adaptation and mitigation, including announcing an increase to AUS$2bn climate finance between 2021-2025, marking a doubling on the pre-2020 period.

 

13. China: The UK’s deeper engagement with the Indo-Pacific, in support of shared prosperity and regional stability, recognises the importance of China and the implications of its growing stature and influence. The UK considers China to be a systemic competitor. It is an authoritarian state, with a different set of values to the UK. We require a diplomatic framework for our relationship that allows us to defend our values, preserve space for engagement where our interests align and clearly discuss our disagreements. Engagement with China is vital in tackling the most important international challenges of this generation, including climate change, biodiversity and preventing future pandemics. It is in the UK’s national interest to continue to trade with China but we need that trade to be honest and reliable, and avoid strategic dependency. We are increasing protection of our Critical National Infrastructure, institutions and sensitive technology, and strengthening the resilience of our critical supply chains, so that we engage with confidence. The Integrated Review set out how we will use all our economic tools and our independent trade policy to diversify our supply chains in critical goods.  Our new Investment Security Unit will safeguard British intellectual property and companies against national security risks, intervening in inward investment where necessary and proportionate.  The UK is committed to setting standards alongside our allies in response to a more complex set of threats.  This will provide the secure foundation through which we can build positive economic links with international partners. The UK will not hesitate to stand up for our values and our interests where they are threatened, or when China acts in breach of existing agreements. The UK government has led international efforts to hold China to account for its human rights violations in Xinjiang, and to hold China to its international legal obligations on Hong Kong as a co-signatory of the Sino-British Joint Declaration. On 22 June 2021, 44 countries including the UK supported a joint statement at the UN that expressed concern at the appalling situation in Xinjiang, Hong Kong, and Tibet. In addition, on 22 March 2021, the former Foreign Secretary announced asset freezes and travel bans against four senior Chinese government officials and one entity responsible for enforcing the repressive security policies across many areas of Xinjiang.  By acting with 29 other countries on an agreed set of designations, we increased the reach and impact of these measures and sent the clearest possible signal of the international community’s serious concern and collective willingness to act.  We have backed up our international action with robust domestic measures.  On 31 January 2021, in response to China’s restrictions of the rights and freedoms of the people in Hong Kong, we launched a bespoke immigration route for BN(O)s. On 12 January 2021, we announced a series of targeted measures to help ensure that British organisations are neither complicit in, nor profiting from, human rights violations in Xinjiang.

 

14. India: A stronger, more ambitious relationship with India is essential for delivering a successful Indo-Pacific tilt. The UK is the first European nation to achieve a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership with India, signed at a Virtual Summit between the Prime Minister and Prime Minister Modi in May 2021. Our Prime Ministers agreed a 2030 Roadmap setting out a decade’s worth of ambitious collaboration on health, climate, trade, security and defence and connecting our people. It comprises five pillars:

 

Trade and investment: building on the UK’s ambition to drive mutual prosperity and demonstrate leadership by collaborating in multilateral economic fora such as the G20, World Bank and International Monetary Fund. The UK-India FTA is the centrepiece of this pillar, resolving market access issues and boosting exports with the goal of doubling UK-India trade by 2030.

 

Defence and Security: working with India to expand and deepen our strategic defence and security cooperation to strengthen efforts to tackle cybercrime and terrorist threats and develop a free, open and secure Indo-Pacific region; and strengthen cooperation in multilateral fora, and promote and uphold a rules-based international system.

 

Climate: bridging the gap between the West and non-aligned countries to deliver a greener planet: co-leading a global shift to a low carbon economy, mobilising investment and supporting a resilient recovery. 

 

Health: as a global force for good in health, the UK and India are combining research and innovation to address global health challenges. Opportunities around health in the Roadmap are significant; global health security and future pandemic preparedness are central to this pillar. 

 

Migration and Mobility: Through our Migration and Mobility Partnership, we have committed to enhancing opportunities for mobility of talent and business, as well as stronger Indian cooperation on tackling illegal migration. We will also strengthen avenues for people-to-people connection in education, research and innovation, and employment and culture. 

 

15. The Prime Minister’s bilateral with Modi at COP26 and the Foreign Secretary’s visit to India in October 2021 supported a strong first year of progress against the 2030 Roadmap. Progress on health follows successful collaboration between Oxford University, AstraZeneca and the Serum Institute of India to develop the Covishield vaccine at scale. In October 2021, the Indian RECOVERY trial launched as the first joint UK-India clinical trial, aiming to identify effective treatments for COVID-19. In December 2021, the Serum Institute of India invested £50 million in Oxford University's Pandemic Sciences centre to boost vaccine research and development in the UK that will benefit both our countries. India, as 'the pharmacy of the world', will play a vital role in helping to meet international targets for global equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines in 2022.

 

16. The Foreign Secretary’s visit coincided with the UK Carrier Strike Group’s (CSG) presence. The CSG made port visits to Mumbai and Goa and undertook four days of single and tri-service exercising with India. The UK is only the third country after the US and Russia to exercise with India at this level of complexity. During her visit, the Foreign Secretary announced new tech and infrastructure initiatives including venture capital funds to support India’s transition to cleaner energy; investment in green tech infrastructure projects; and a virtual network of UK and Indian labs working to promote Net Zero targets in key industries. She also hosted a workshop to launch our British International Investment (BII) effort in India. The UK continues to work with India to tackle climate change across the region and globally. The UK welcomes India’s new 2030 commitments made by Prime Minister Modi at COP26, including 500GW non fossil fuel power capacity, 50% electricity capacity from renewable sources and 45% reduction of the carbon intensity of the economy. Prime Minister Modi for the first time made a commitment for India to become net zero, meaning 90% of the world’s economy is now committed to this goal. Prime Minister Modi and Prime Minister Johnson jointly launched the UK-India Green Grids Initiative - One Sun One World One Grid - at COP26, which has over 80 signatories, and will further accelerate the development and deployment of interconnected electricity grids across continents, countries and communities, enabling the integration of high levels of renewable power. Our work with India, including through the Clean Green Initiative and as part of wider Build Back Better World (B3W) efforts, will help drive sustainable growth and put the world on a path to build back better and greener from the pandemic.

 

17. Free Trade Agreement preparations have been progressing well; the Trade Secretary plans to visit India early this year to officially launch negotiations. Good progress has been made on implementing the Enhanced Trade Partnership market access commitments made in April 2021.

 

18. Indonesia: As an influential member of ASEAN and this year’s G20 Chair, the UK Government is maximising opportunities to work together with Indonesia to promote our shared values around democracy, freedom of navigation and trade. The UK-Indonesia bilateral relationship has deepened as we pursue together Indo-Pacific tilt priorities across maritime security, cyber security and trade. At COP26, Prime Minister Johnson and President Widodo discussed the importance of building a strong strategic partnership, across climate, defence, trade and investment. Building on this, the Foreign Secretary visited Indonesia in November 2021 where she met President Widodo and Foreign Minister Marsudi. The UK and Indonesia agreed to establish a Partnership Roadmap by the end of 2021 to strengthen further UK-Indonesia cooperation, including in technology and digital, investment and trade, and defence and maritime security. In April 2021, the former Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, visited Jakarta where he and Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi supported a new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on counter-terrorism cooperation and the establishment of two new bilateral dialogues on cyber and legal issues, including maritime law. Also in April 2021, the UK and Indonesia signed a MOU to establish a Joint Economic Trade Committee to capitalise on the findings of the Joint Trade Review. The UK and Indonesia are increasing cooperation across science and education, with the UK one of Indonesia’s top five partners in research and innovation. The UK-Indonesia Digital Trade Network is providing expertise to accelerate the UK tech sector’s growth and commercial ties in the country. The UK and Indonesia continue to address barriers to digital trade through the first ASEAN-UK Digital Innovation Partnership in September 2021, which has created a new platform to promote British businesses, amplify our voice as a thought-leader on digital innovation, and build new relationships with governments and businesses in the region.

 

19. Japan: The UK’s global strategic partnership with Japan is based on trade and security cooperation, underpinned by our strong desire to sustain a Free and Open Indo-Pacific.[3] The UK has a strong defence partnership with Japan and, in line with our Indo-Pacific tilt, we are increasing engagement on security, including maritime and cyber. Security and defence is one of the key strategic areas where the UK and Japan are truly delivering a step-change in our relationship. During the 2+2 Japan-UK foreign and defence ministerial meeting in February 2021[4], Ministers confirmed their continued commitment to provide leadership in maintaining regional security and upholding the rules-based international order. Japan welcomed the UK Carrier Strike Group deployment to the regionThe UK and Japan signed in 2021 a Maritime Security Arrangement to further security cooperation between the Royal Navy and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JSDF) and continue to support progress in other domains, including ground, air, cyber, and space. Prime Minister Johnson had a successful discussion with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida of Japan at COP26 where he welcomed Japan’s net zero commitment and hoped to see new pledges on phasing out coal. Prime Minister Johnson also welcomed Japan’s new climate finance contributions, and in particular their support for adaptation. Beyond this, both leaders discussed foreign policy and security issues, including enhancing opportunities on trade and investment, building on the UK-Japan trade agreement signed in 2020. The UK is maximizing the benefits of the UK-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) to increase trade and create jobs in the UK. The UK-Japan CEPA, the UK’s first major post-Brexit trade deal, secures additional benefits beyond the EU-Japan trade deal and gives UK companies exporting to Japan a competitive advantage in a number of areas. The CEPA makes it easier for UK firms to invest in Japan and reinforces the UK’s position as the top destination in Europe, and third in the word, for investment. UK accession to the CPTPP will further strengthen our bilateral trading relationship.  In addition, the UK is exploring ways to work more closely with Japan on economic security across the Protect, Strengthen and Influence strands of our Economic Security Strategy. The UK and Japan continue to work closely on cyber issues, bilaterally and multilaterally, including through a new high-level bilateral cyber dialogue in July 2021. We are also strengthening UK-Japan development cooperation working together on infrastructure development projects in the East Africa region to complement Japan’s infrastructure offer under their Free and Open Indo-Pacific strategy.

 

20. New Zealand: The UK and New Zealand have a longstanding and close partnership with a shared Head of State, history, values and deep people-to-people links as well as membership of Five Eyes and the Commonwealth. New Zealand’s Indo-Pacific approach aligns closely with the UK’s Indo-Pacific tilt and we are strengthening collaboration across our trade, defence, and values agenda, including to combat climate change. As highlighted at COP26, the UK and New Zealand are strengthening collaboration on climate change through the Champion Group on Adaptation Finance. New Zealand, alongside twelve other providers, has committed to achieving a balance in climate finance spent on adaptation and mitigation. Collectively, the Champion Group is projected to provide c.$12.7 bn in adaptation finance in 2025. As Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) 2021 chair, New Zealand has emphasised economic recovery through free and open trade in the region, sustainability and the digital economy, all of which overlap with UK Indo-Pacific tilt priorities. The UK is currently working to secure a FTA with New Zealand. Final negotiations will now continue to allow for signature at the earliest opportunity. The New Zealand FTA will include a shared commitment to remove all customs duties on bilateral trade and sets high standards on environmental protection and green growth, demonstrating strong global leadership. This agreement also sets high standards on environmental protection and green growth, demonstrating strong global leadership. New Zealand has supported the UK’s increased engagement in the South Pacific, and we are co-located in three of our six High Commissions in that region. The UK is also working with New Zealand to support the Pacific Islands as they recover from the economic and health consequences of COVID-19.

 

21. Pacific Islands: The Pacific region is increasingly important geopolitically. Pacific Island Countries (PICs) are the UK’s close allies in working on global challenges such as climate change. The UK continues to work with PICs, bilaterally and multilaterally, including through the UK’s Pacific Partnership Strategy, to help them build stability and resilience. The UK has increased our diplomatic presence to six High Commissions across the Pacific. In addition to our existing missions in Honiara, Port Moresby and Suva, UK High Commissions opened in Port Vila, Vanuatu in July 2019, in Apia, Samoa in December 2019, and the sixth, in Nuku’alofa, Tonga opened in May 2021. The UK has also doubled the size of our team at the British High Commission in Fiji, with new roles on development, trade policy and climate. PICs are among the most vulnerable in the world to climate change, including through extreme weather events and sea level rise. They are also among the strongest advocates for more urgent action on mitigation and adaptation. In recognition of the particular logistical difficulties faced by countries in the Pacific travelling to COP26, the COP President and Minister Goldsmith organised a hybrid event on the COP Platform with Pacific Leaders, co-hosted virtually by the PM of Samoa, to hear from those who could not make the journey to Glasgow as well as the Pacific Climate Champions in Glasgow. The UK continues to support PICs in addressing the existential challenges posed by climate change, including through multilateral processes. PICs received an estimated £76.6 million of UK Aid through UK core funding to multilateral institutions in 2019 and we spent an additional £16.3 million in ODA, bilaterally, in the same year. In 2020, in direct response to the pandemic, the UK provided a further £1.8 million to the World Health Organisation in support of its COVID-19 response in the Pacific. More recently, in August 2021, the UK announced five new projects for 2021/22 under the Conflict, Stability and Security Fund, through which we are working with PICs and regional partners in support of an open, inclusive, resilient, prosperous and rules-based Pacific. To bolster further support for PICs, the UK continues to work in close partnership with Australia and New Zealand, including through a humanitarian partnership with Australia, and through our work on Access to Finance for Small Island Developing States.

 

22. The Republic of Korea (ROK): As a leading global economy, with a shared commitment to democratic principles, the UK is committed to deepening and cementing our ties with ROK as part of our Indo-Pacific tilt. The Foreign Secretary met with Foreign Minister Chung on 14 October 2021 and agreed to continue strengthening UK-Korea ties including on trade, defence and security and open societies. The UK-ROK continuity FTA entered into force on 1 January 2021. We are committed to start renegotiating and deepening aspects of the FTA within two years of this date, including provisions for Rules of Origin and Investment as well as a new chapter on digital trade. The UK is enhancing cooperation on cyber security and digital governance and is also committed to expanding our development partnership with ROK. The UK and ROK are together supporting girls’ education through the Global Partnership for Education as well as equitable access to vaccines through the COVAX Advanced Market Commitment. Both countries have committed to sharing one million Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine doses to mutually support the rollout of the lifesaving vaccine in each nation. The UK and the ROK are also working together for a greener, more prosperous future, including through the ROK-hosted P4G Summit in May 2021. The Foreign Secretary recently met with RoK Foreign Minister Chung at COP26 and agreed to strengthen trade ties, security as well as deepening collaboration on investment, tech and digital.

 

23. Taiwan: The UK has a vibrant and growing unofficial relationship based on dynamic commercial, educational and cultural ties, which delivers significant benefits to both the UK and Taiwan.

 

Multilateral

 

24. The UK is bolstering our offer to Indo-Pacific partners, bilaterally and multilaterally, by deepening engagement with the region through international fora. The UK Government used our G7 Presidency to revitalise cooperation between democratic societies and to strengthen partnerships beyond the G7, particularly in the Indo-Pacific, inviting Australia, India, the Republic of Korea and South Africa to join the Leaders’ Summit in June 2021. In December 2021, ASEAN Foreign Ministers joined the second G7 Foreign and Development Ministers’ meeting, alongside Australia and the Republic of Korea, where they discussed strengthening co-operation in the Indo-Pacific on security, infrastructure investment and development finance, building on the Build Back Better World Initiative. The meeting built upon discussions with the ASEAN Chair at the first G7 Foreign and Development Ministers meeting in May 2021.

 

25. The UK continues to support stability in the Indo-Pacific through the Five Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA). Elements of the Carrier Strike Group and Royal Air Force assets joined the FPDA military Exercise Bersama Gold 21, demonstrating the UK’s commitment to FPDA nations and regional security. The AUKUS partnership is a further example of the UK's commitment to regional security. In parallel with our Indo-Pacific commitments, and as outlined in the Integrated Review, the UK will continue to play a positive and active part in international institutions including the UN, WTO and WHO, and we remain anchored in NATO, in Five Eyes, a close US ally, a friend of the Gulf, a dependable European neighbour and partner and a committed member of the Commonwealth.

 

26. The UK gained ASEAN Dialogue Partnership Status on 5 August 2021. ASEAN is the pre-eminent multilateral group in Asia and is a market of 650 million people, predicted to be fourth largest ‘single market’ by 2030. As a Dialogue Partner, the UK is working with ASEAN on global challenges, supporting ASEAN’s central role in regional stability and prosperity and enabling sustainable development in South East Asia. Supporting ASEAN “centrality” strengthens the rules-based international system and reinforces the UK’s status as a trusted partner in the Indo-PacificThe UK is using its influential role within the multilateral system as a P5 country and a G7 and G20 member to support closer global links with ASEAN. For example, under the UK’s G7 Presidency, the ASEAN Chair attended the Foreign and Development Ministers Meeting in May 2021, the first time that ASEAN has been represented at the G7. The UK is working with ASEAN to build back better from COVID-19 by developing green, inclusive and resilient economic recovery plans.  

 

27. On 2 November 2021 at COP26, the UK announced a £110 million contribution to the ASEAN Catalytic Green Finance Facility.  The facility increases access to finance for critical infrastructure for ASEAN countries, and will support the development of sustainable infrastructure projects such as renewable energy, clean transportation or urban infrastructure in developing countries across the region.  It will mobilise further public and private funds and forms part of a wider commitment from ASEAN governments and partners to deploy over £5 billion into green projects across the region.  Co-investing in clean and reliable infrastructure in developing countries is part of the Foreign Secretary’s plan to deepen economic ties with friends and partners – boosting jobs and growth in the UK and across the developing world – while providing an alternative source of investment.

 

28. The UK continues to work with ASEAN to tackle the impacts of COVID-19. To date, we have donated 3.5 million vaccines to ASEAN countries and, during 2021/22, the UK is spending £4.9 million on the Better Health Programme in South East Asia as well as providing £1 million support to the ASEAN COVID-19 Response Fund, which will be used to bolster ASEAN’s health response to the pandemic.  In addition, being a Dialogue Partner is helping the UK to deepen economic links with ASEAN, which has a combined GDP of $3.2 trillion, boosting trade, opening up opportunities for British businesses, including creating jobs in the UK and across South East Asia.  Dialogue Partner status is also enhancing UK security cooperation with ASEAN, with a particular focus on maritime security (including upholding UNCLOS), cyber security and efforts to counter transnational crime.

 

29. The UK recognises the need to be flexible in building new partnerships in order to realise the opportunities and manage risks across the region.  The AUKUS partnership is an illustration of that approach. The Indo-Pacific Quad is similarly increasingly important to four of the UK’s closest partners in the region (Australia, India, Japan and the US), enabling them to work together more closely across a wide range of issues.  The UK welcomes the outcomes of the two leaders’ level Quad summits in March and September 2021, which echo many of the UK’s priorities, including climate change, COVID-19 response and emerging technology. The UK is looking at options for closer practical cooperation with Quad members in these areas, supplementing our important bilateral partnerships.

 

Implementation

 

30. Delivery of the Integrated Review is overseen by the National Security Council (NSC). The Integrated Review’s strategic framework is being delivered through a set of geographic and thematic sub-strategies, which translate the UK Government’s objectives and goals into actionable programmes of work. 

 

31. The UK’s Indo-Pacific framework is one of those Integrated Review sub-strategies. The Foreign Secretary leads delivery of the cross-Government Indo-Pacific tilt. FCDO Director General Indo-Pacific, Jenny Bates, has been appointed as Senior Responsible Officer for work on the Indo-Pacific across government.

 

32. Successful delivery of the UK’s Indo-Pacific tilt requires a co-ordinated whole of Government effort. The FCDO-led Indo-Pacific Steering Board, chaired by DG Indo-Pacific, co-ordinates and monitors progress across government. The Board has met seven times since the start of 2021.

 

 

January 2022


[1] Ministry of Defence: Defence Command Paper: Defence in a Competitive Age. https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/974661/CP411_-Defence_Command_Plan.pdf

[2] The UK, India and Australia provided $10 million of funding each for a Technical Assistance Facility for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure in Small Island Developing States (SIDS) ($30m total).

 

[3] Japan formally announced its “Free and Open Indo-Pacific” (FOIP) strategy in 2016. It is underpinned by values of peace, stability and freedom of navigation.

[4] H.E. Mr. MOTEGI Toshimitsu, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan and H.E. Mr. KISHI Nobuo, Minister of Defence of Japan, the Rt Hon Dominic Raab, then Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs and First Secretary of State of the UK and the Rt Hon Ben Wallace, the Secretary of State for Defence of the UK held the fourth Japan-UK Foreign and Defence Ministerial Meeting on 3 February 2021, in the form of a video conference, due to the current situation regarding COVID-19 pandemic.