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BRITISH Prime Minister David Cameron on Tuesday drummed up the business opportunities available in South-east Asia, making the region the destination of his first major trade visit since the UK general election in May.
"For too long, we have been too reliant on our European neighbours for trade and investment," he told participants at a lecture at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy. "It's a striking statistic that Britain still does more trade with Belgium than with the whole of Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam combined."
Mr Cameron also reaffirmed his commitment to driving down corruption, and urged world leaders and foreign companies investing in the UK to tackle this head on. This should include greater sharing of data among countries to stem money laundering.
From next year, Britain will become the first major country to establish a publicly accessible central registry showing who "really owns and controls all British companies", he said.
"This will open up a new era of corporate transparency in Britain. But, of course, it will only apply in Britain and for British companies. So the aim should surely be for others to follow," Mr Cameron said. "To really tackle corruption effectively, we need to be able to trace data from one country to another."
In particular, Mr Cameron highlighted the use of shell companies to snap up London properties. He will look to make property ownership by foreign companies much more transparent. This will include looking if any non-UK company wishing to bid on a contract with the UK government should also be clear publicly on its true owners.