UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab is visiting South-East Asia this week in his first trip to the region since Britain's defence review set out plans for an Indo-Pacific tilt and a "new era" in security.
Mr Raab met Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo in Jakarta on Wednesday to discuss Britain’s £2.7 billion ($3.74bn) trade partnership with the world’s fourth most populous country.
He will also travel to Brunei, where a British garrison is stationed, to hold meetings with the sultan and top officials.
Brunei is the current chair of the Association of South-East Asian Nations, Asean, which Britain hopes to join as a “dialogue partner”.
Asean secretary general Lim Jock Hoi was among those to hold talks with Mr Raab in Jakarta on Wednesday.
The UK also hopes to join the 11-nation Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, of which Brunei is a member.
Mr Raab's trip comes ahead of the first deployment of aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth to the Indo-Pacific region, leading the UK Carrier Strike Group, later this year.
“This is my fourth visit to the region; to two key strategic partners, because the Indo-Pacific tilt is vital for the UK to grasp the economic opportunities and rise to the new challenges ahead,” Mr Raab said.
“We’re deepening our trading relationships. The Carrier Strike Group’s deployment marks the start of a new era of defence co-operation.
“And the UK is investing in long-term partnerships as a force for good in the region.”
The UK’s Integrated Review on foreign and security policy, published last month, said that Britain needs to “engage more deeply” in the region.
“Our goal: we will be the European partner with the broadest and most integrated presence in the Indo-Pacific,” the review said.
“In the decades to come it will be the crucible for many of the most pressing global challenges – from climate and biodiversity to maritime security and geopolitical competition linked to rules and norms,” it said.
The review outlined Britain's intent to "look for ways to work more closely with European partners" in the region, including France and Germany.