|Participants of the first ASEAN-UK Senior Officials’ Meeting (AUKSOM) pose for a group photo.(Photo: asean.org)
Held on July 6 in London, it is the first official engagement of senior officials since ASEAN conferred the status of Dialogue Partner on the UK at the 54th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting on August 2, 2021.
At the event, both sides agreed to continue to foster their existing cooperation and explore new areas for future cooperation, including counter-terrorism and violent-extremism; cybersecurity; transnational crime; maritime cooperation; digital integration; transition to clean energy; food security; sustainable infrastructure; environment and climate change.
Other areas of cooperation are people-to-people exchanges; connectivity, including the implementation of the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity (MPAC); ASEAN Smart Cities Network (ASCN); implementation of the IAI Work Plan IV (2021-2025); education and human resource development, especially technical and vocational education and training (TVET); and public health.
The meeting highlighted the sides’ close cooperation in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and post-pandemic recovery phase, with the UK’s contribution of 1 million GBP to the COVID-19 ASEAN Response Fund highly appreciated.
Participants also underlined the need to continue cooperation for the regional post-pandemic recovery, including through the ASEAN Regional Reserve of Medical Supplies (RRMS) for Public Health Emergencies, the ASEAN Center for Public Health Emergencies and Emerging Diseases (ACPHEED), and the ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework and its Implementation Plan.
The meeting welcomed the implementation of the ASEAN-UK Joint Ministerial Declaration on Future Economic Cooperation which provides guidance on the strengthening of ASEAN-UK engagement in the economic pillar.
The meeting took note of the progress of and ongoing work in the negotiation of the Plan of Action (POA) to Implement the ASEAN-UK Dialogue Partnership for 2022-2026 and looked forward to the adoption of the pact at the ASEAN Post Ministerial Conference 10-1 Session with the UK, slated for August 4 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
Ambassador Vu Ho, Acting Head of SOM ASEAN Vietnam attended the meeting. The senior officials also exchanged views on regional economic developments and the multilateral trading system, the importance of maintaining ASEAN’s centrality in the regional architecture, and the situations in the East Sea and in Ukraine, among other matters.