British Foreign Policy: A Shift in the Right Direction?

UK foreign policy to divert its attention following review

Over the past year, a revision of the UK’s foreign policy has been carried out resulting in an increased focus on countries in the Indo-Pacific region, such as Japan, India, and Australia.  

This shift in foreign policy provides an insight into the UK’s intentions following the Brexit saga. But is this a shift in the right direction or has it diverted attention away from securing better trade relations with our neighbours across the channel? 

The Indo-Pacific area is showing fast rates of economic growth, with even greater progression predicted in the future. The possibility of increased trade with burgeoning regional powers has attracted the UK. As we say farewell to one free trade union, the government has been quick to apply to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) – in other words, a significant free trade treaty in South Asia and the Pacific. The UK also aims to become a dialogue partner of The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and work towards an international green policy with the region. 

Alongside economic development, the UK hopes this move will help to substantiate its foothold in the East and realise its dream of a ‘Global Britain’ post-Brexit. Whilst countries such as the US and Germany remain our closest partners, Boris Johnson is making efforts to establish closer relations elsewhere and has even pledged that his first foreign visit after leaving the EU will be to India. 

The game of geopolitics runs on the balance of relative power. One country that is making stirs on the global chessboard is China – the fastest growing economy has been making its presence known for some time, notably in Southeast Asia. Could the increased presence of the UK be a ploy to curb Beijing dominance in the area? 

The rise of the global east not only threatens to displace current powers but also provides major opportunities for increased economic interdependence between established and rising actors. Only time will tell if Johnson’s ‘Global Britain’ gamble will pay off. 

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