Cleverly to promote ‘free and open’ Indo-Pacific at G7 ministers’ meeting

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James Cleverly will use a trip to the G7 foreign ministers’ meeting in Japan, and then to the Pacific Islands and New Zealand, to promote a “free and open” Indo-Pacific.

The Foreign Secretary and his counterparts from the Group of Seven of the world’s advanced economies begin their three-day gathering in Karuizawa on Sunday, ahead of the G7 leaders’ summit in Hiroshima in May.

Discussions are expected to focus on support for Ukraine in its fight against Russia’s invasion, and closer security and defence ties in the face of China’s growing assertiveness in the Pacific.

Ahead of his travels, Mr Cleverly said: “With increasing competition in the region, it is more important than ever that we promote a free and open Indo-Pacific.

“Throughout my visit, I will build on commitments to our friends across the Pacific nations in their bid to promote peace and prosperity in the region.”

The Government’s updated integrated review last month reinforced a post-Brexit “tilt” towards the Indo-Pacific region as a “permanent pillar” of British foreign policy.

Mr Cleverly will announce that the UK will join the US, Japan and Australia as a member of the Blue Dot Network, according to the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office.

The global scheme certifies infrastructure projects in the developing world that meet high quality standards so that they attract private investment.

The Foreign Secretary will also discuss opportunities created by the UK’s accession last month to a major Indo-Pacific trade bloc.

Joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) marked Britain’s biggest trade deal since leaving the EU.

But critics say the impact will be limited, with official estimates suggesting it will add just £1.8 billion a year to the economy after 10 years, representing less than 1% of UK GDP.

After Japan, Mr Cleverly will travel to Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands to offer UK support on tackling climate change.

He will announce £4.5 million of new funding to help connect communities there to clean energy sources.

Mr Cleverly’s trip then continues to Samoa and New Zealand’s capital Wellington.

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