UK announces Low Carbon and Economic Reform Programmes in ASEAN

The Minister of State for Asia, announced the launch of two programmes that will deliver a total of USD43 million (GBP34 million) in funding to support low carbon transitions and economic reform in the ASEAN region.

The USD24 million (GBP19 million) Economic Reform Programme will enable inclusive economic growth by promoting fairer business environments and underdeveloped financial markets.  In addition, the USD19 million (GBP15 million) Carbon Energy Programme will enable partners to work with UK expertise in tackling urgent low carbon transitions domestically. Both programmes will be delivered through the UK’s Prosperity Fund and Malaysia will benefit from both these programmes.

The Low Carbon Energy programme will focus on two specific areas which match Malaysian government’s needs and areas of UK expertise: Green Finance and Energy Efficiency. The programme will provide policy support, capacity building and technical assistance to improve energy security and inclusive access to clean and reliable energy sources, thus contribute to greenhouse gas reduction.

The Economic Reform in Malaysia will provide policy support, capacity building and technical assistance, particularly in the areas of capital market development (including Islamic Finance), Fintech, competition policy (logistics sector) and business environment. It aims to enhance the ease of doing business, competitiveness and growth potential as well as contribute to social outcomes such as financial inclusion and inclusive growth.

The announcements were made following a meeting between the UK’s Minister of State for Asia, Mark Field, and Dato Lim Jock Hoi, the ASEAN Secretary General, as part of his two day visit to the UK. During the visit the Minister for Asia and the Secretary General discussed areas of focus for potential future co-operation, including FinTech and green finance, the development of smart cities, cyber security, education and increased defence co-operation.

Minister of State for Asia, Mark Field: “UK investment in Southeast Asia exceeds our investment in China and India combined, and with ASEAN businesses collectively ranking as the third largest Asian investor in the UK, it isn’t hard to see why developing our relationship is a priority. That is why the UK will be opening our new British Mission to ASEAN in Jakarta, and why the Secretary General and I discussed strengthening our relationship further.”

During his visit to London, the ASEAN Secretary General met a number of UK Ministers, including Cabinet Office Minister David Lidington, as well as engaging with UK business and the Prime Minister’s Trade Envoys, reflecting the UK and ASEAN’s many areas of shared interest. The visit follows a host of activity already this year, including a speech by the Foreign Secretary in Singapore, and a meeting between the Secretary General and Britain’s top diplomat when he visited the ASEAN Secretariat in Jakarta.

The UK is a credible and dependable partner for the ASEAN region and works together with member states to enhance trade, maintain security, and increase prosperity while deepening cultural ties:


  • UK-Southeast Asia Trade is worth USD42 billion (GBP32 billion) a year (2016*) and two-way investment stock between the UK and ASEAN countries was at  least USD54.8 billion (GBP41.8 billion) in 2016
  • In 2016, total UK exports to ASEAN was at USD17.7 billion (GBP13.5 billion) a year, more than double those to India.
  • The UK imports USD24.3 billion (GBP18.5 billion) worth of goods a year from ASEAN nations (2016)
  • USD30 billion (GBP23 billion) Foreign Direct Investment flows from the UK into ASEAN nations (2016)
  • The UK Prime Minister has appointed 3 Trade Envoys to Southeast Asia and a dedicated Trade Commissioner for the Asia-Pacific region

*All facts are based on 206 figures, which are the most recently available.


  • The UK maintains a permanent and enduring defence presence in Asia-Pacific though East Asia’s only collective security agreement, the Five Power Defence Arrangements.
  • The UK has cyber security capacity-building programmes worth USD 0.59 million (GBP0.45 million) across ASEAN that are helping improve regional resilience to a range of cyber threats.


  • UK support for International Climate Finance for Southeast Asia amounts to USD555 million (GBP423 million)
  • The Newton Fund will see the UK continuing to contribute up to USD24 million (GBP18 million) a year towards scientific partnerships in ASEAN countries until 2021
  • Over 40,000 Southeast Asian students attend UK universities each year and the Chevening programme will fund USD7.2 million (GBP5.5 million) worth of scholarships in the 2019-2020 academic year alone.
  • The British Council is leading a consortium to deliver a USD12 million (GBP9 million) project to help harmonise higher education standards across the region.

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