'Global Britain' will be a key partner for Thailand 4.0

'Global Britain' will be a key partner for Thailand 4.0

Thailand and the United Kingdom have enjoyed an enduring friendship for over 400 years, inspired by our two monarchies, and based on the free exchange of ideas, technology and culture. These strong foundations give us confidence as together we move to a new chapter in our common history.

For the United Kingdom, we look to broaden our horizons by renewing old friendships and building new partnerships. On 17 Jan, Prime Minister Theresa May set out her vision for post-Brexit Britain. We are leaving the EU but we're not leaving Europe. We will stay reliable partners, willing allies and close friends with our neighbours, when we have so many values and interests in common. We want the EU to be a success and we want its remaining member states to prosper.

The prime minister was clear that June 23, 2016 was not the moment Britain chose to step back from the world. It was the moment we chose to build a truly Global Britain.

Global Britain will enhance its role as a great, global, trading nation. We will continue to be one of the best places in the world for science and innovation. We will continue to play a prominent and responsible role in the world, as a steadfast permanent member of the UN Security Council, meeting our Nato commitment to spend 2% of GDP on defence, standing up for the rules-based international system and for international law. We are one of only six nations in the world to spend 0.7% or more of our gross national income on development. We will remain committed to reducing poverty, dealing with instability and increasing prosperity the world over. We will continue to drive forward the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. We implemented the Paris agreement on climate change last year.

We look to Thailand as an ever more important partner as we pursue our vision for a Global Britain. That is why I am delighted to be visiting Bangkok this week. The large and impressive community of UK university-educated Thais make a huge contribution to your society. A million British people visit Thailand every year. We hope that Thailand sees Brexit as a time of opportunity in our relations, as we think about stepping up, not stepping back.

My visit this week will focus on how we can build a modern comprehensive partnership with Thailand in the post-Brexit era. In trade, investment, education, science and technology, Thailand has a bold ambition to upgrade its economy, to become Thailand 4.0.

I would like to see the United Kingdom be an essential partner for Thailand 4.0. The UK offers world class technology and know-how in many of the key sectors. Such as digitisation, aerospace, vocational education, and turning bright ideas into smart agricultural, financial, energy and medical technology to the benefit of all.

Good governance, transparency and rule of law create a strong economic and business environment. Policy-making can be enhanced through effective consultation, including with a strong and active civil society. I am delighted that the UK has been able to support the Thai government's efforts to improve transparency in public procurement.

I look forward to discussing with Thai ministers, such as Dr Somkid [Jatusripitak] and Dr Pichet [Durongkaveroj], business counterparts, and other thought leaders how we best turn our commitment into concrete actions. My visit will also include meetings with political parties and civil society to hear their views about how open debate matters in a political context too, including how it can support reconciliation. I hope that all sides will be able to work together towards this. I also look forward to hearing of continued progress towards successful elections in accordance with the government's roadmap.

Our experience in Britain tells me that ideas, creativity and open debate will help Thailand move down the road to an innovation-driven, high value-added future. Britain looks forward to working with Thailand in the next stage of our enduring friendship.

Alok Sharma is the UK's Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Minister for Asia and the Pacific). His visit to Thailand began Thursday and ends Saturday.

Alok Sharma

UK's Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Alok Sharma is the UK's Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Minister for Asia and the Pacific). His visit to Thailand began Thursday and ends Saturday.

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