Meeting discusses vaccine production, distribution

Aziz Idris

British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab held a virtual meeting with ambassadors and high commissioners to the United Kingdom (UK) from the 10 ASEAN member states recently.

High Commissioner of Brunei Darussalam to the UK and Northern Ireland First Admiral (Rtd) Pengiran Dato Seri Pahlawan Norazmi bin Pengiran Haji Muhammad represented Brunei during the meeting.

The topics discussed included the importance of collaboration on COVID-19 vaccine production and distribution, shared challenges in tackling climate change and how the UK and ASEAN can strengthen ties to build back a more sustainable global economy post-pandemic.

The foreign secretary submitted the UK’s application to become an ASEAN Dialogue Partner to join other countries including Australia, India and Japan in areas of common interest earlier this year.

Raab, in a press statement, said, “Whether it’s fighting climate change, beating COVID-19, or flying the flag for free trade – the UK is a friend to ASEAN.

“We want 2021 to be a historic year for UK-ASEAN relations, and we look forward to building back better and greener together after the pandemic.”

The wider Indo-Pacific region is a key partner for the UK. The ASEAN bloc is set to become the fourth largest ‘single market’ by 2030 and is of increasing geostrategic importance as political, economic and military power shifts towards Asia this century.