HC Deb 10 February 1998 vol 306 cc125-6
1. Mr. Hill

If he will make a statement on the agenda for discussion at the Europe-Asia (ASEM2) Conference to be held in London in April. [26427]

The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. Robin Cook)

We look forward to holding the ASEM2 summit in London on 3 and 4 April, the first of its kind in Europe. The summit will give my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister a unique opportunity for wide-ranging, informal and productive discussions with 25 world leaders, representing countries that account for half the economy of the globe. We expect ASEM2 to discuss the financial turbulence in the region, measures to improve business and trade links and co-operation in response to environmental threats such as forest fires.

Mr. Hill

I thank my right hon. Friend for his reply. As he has remarked, south-east Asia has gone through great political and economic turbulence in recent times, and he will be aware how important a growing and dynamic Pacific rim is for British exports. What steps is the Foreign Office taking to promote British exports to the region?

Mr. Cook

I am pleased to assure my hon. Friend that, when I was in the region last autumn, I lobbied successfully on behalf of British companies. We have ensured that a third of staff at our embassies in those posts are dedicated to commercial promotion work. As a result, they are winning orders for Britain.

My hon. Friend is right to draw attention to the financial turbulence in the area. We will undoubtedly discuss that issue at ASEM2, because we are well aware that that financial turbulence can have an impact on us. That is precisely why Europe is one of the leading contributors of funds to ensure that we quell that turbulence and enable those countries to resume their growth trend.

Forward to