Britain open for business to ASEAN Kuala Lumpur: “The era of benign neglect is over. Britain is back, back and open for business,” Prime Minister David Cameron declared to a group of 120 business executives from ASEAN and the UK.

The prime minister was travelling with biggest ever business delegation to have come from Britain and meeting ASEAN’s business leaders at a dinner hosted by the ASEAN Business Club. Mr. Cameron’s speech outlined the significance ASEAN as an engine of growth in the 21st century and spoke of Britain’s economic dynamism.

“I know tonight there will be many conversations that lead to many partnerships and investments.

We are focusing our energy in deepening our trade and investment relationship around the world, that’s why we’ve set up the UK-ASEAN Business council, which is a perfect partner for the ASEAN Business Club.” Dinner attendees included council members of the ASEAN Business Club, Tony Fernandes of AirAsia, Patrick Walujo of Northstar Pacific, and leaders of British companies. In his welcoming remarks, ASEAN Business Club council member Dato Sri’ Nazir Razak welcomed the heightening of Britain’s business engagement with ASEAN that was signaled by the Prime Minister’s visit.

“The ASEAN Business Club sees interaction with business counterparts beyond ASEAN as integral to our purpose and tonight’s event is a fine example of opportunities we offer our members,” he said. Also present at the dinner was the UK Minister of Trade and Investment Stephen Green, Dato’ Mustapa Mohamad, the Malaysia’s Minister of Trade & Industry, Dato’ Mukhriz Mahathir, the Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, and Governor of the Central Bank of Malaysia Tan Sri Dato’ Sri Dr. Zeti Akhtar Aziz. ASEAN-UK trade stood at US$28.34 billion in 2010, a 23 percent year-on-year increase. The event’s host, the ASEAN Business Club, consists of CEOs of the region’s top companies who have organized themselves to promote and catalyze regional integration.