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Foreign Secretary opens new British Embassy in Laos

FCO Press Release: Monday 5 November 2012

Foreign Secretary opens new British Embassy in Laos

Making the first ever visit to Laos by a British Foreign Secretary, William Hague said:

“I am delighted to open the new British Embassy in Vientiane after an absence of 27 years.

"This step reflects our desire to forge a deep and lasting relationship with the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, and our Government’s determination to build stronger relationships in Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

"The UK is now one of only three European countries to have an Embassy in every one of the 10 nations of ASEAN.

"ASEAN countries are at the centre of Asia's rise. They represent 600 million people; absorb more UK exports than mainland China or India; and are predicted to be the world’s fourth-largest single market by 2030.

“Laos itself had rapid growth of 8% last year, and will be chairing the ASEAN in 2016 immediately after it becomes a single market in 2015. This is therefore an excellent moment to be opening an Embassy and starting a new era in our relations.”

The Foreign Secretary’s trip to South East Asia follows the Prime Minister’s visit to the region in April, and 26 other ministerial visits in 2012. UK trade exports to ASEAN countries have increased by around 40% since 2009, and UK exports to Laos grew by 142% last year.

While in Vientiane the Foreign Secretary will also represent the UK at the Asia-Europe Summit. He will call for vigorous engagement in Asia by the European Union as a whole, particularly in championing free trade agreements, lowering barriers to trade, and forging closer cooperation in the areas of security and disaster preparedness.

Note for Editors

A full version of his speech at the opening of Britain’s new Embassy in Laos can be found on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website.

The Foreign Secretary announced in April 2012 that the UK would reopen the British Embassy in Vientiane, Laos. This was part of a major increase in UK diplomatic resources in 22 countries, particularly in Emerging Markets in Asia.

The British Embassy in Laos was closed in 1985. Since 1985 the British Ambassador to Bangkok has been accredited to Laos.

The new British Ambassador to Laos, Mr Philip Malone, was accredited on 18 October and has taken up post in country. The Ambassador’s immediate priorities will be to get the Embassy fully functioning and to install a small but agile team. The Foreign Secretary officially re-opened the Embassy in Vientiane on 5 November.

Once the Embassy is established, it will support British Nationals who need help. There are around 37,000 British visitors a year to Laos. Meanwhile, the current arrangements will continue: the Australian embassy will continue to assist British Nationals for us until January, supported by the British Embassy in Bangkok.


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