David Cameron will today make the first visit of a British Prime Minister to Vietnam, where he will make an offer to help to stem the scourge of slave labour.

Mr Cameron will meet Nguyen Phu Trong, the General Secretary of the Communist Party , Nguyen Tan Dung, the Prime Minister, and Truong Tan Sang, the president, at a meeting in Hanoi this morning.

He later travels to the stock exchange in Ho Chi Minh City, where, accompanied by a delegation of 30 British firms, he will push the message that Britain is open for business with south east Asia.

The Communist Party remains in command of a one-party state that stands accused of suppressing dissidents, journalists and priets, but Mr Cameron’s comes at a time of growing willingness to engage with the West. Mr Trong visited President Obama at the White House earlier this month

The meeting comes shortly after the 40th anniversary of the fall of US-backed Saigon to Communist forces in April 1975. At the time Mr Trong was a senior party official, while Mr Cameron was just eight years old.

The country is now one of Asia’s fastest growing economies, with a young population, a burgeoning middle class and shrinking reliance on Western aid. Britain will end its aid programme in the country next year.

The Prime Minister will urge his counterparts to accept political reforms alongside economic change, UK officials said.

He will emphasise the need to reduce corruption to attract trade, and to grant greater access.

In a speech in Singapore on Tuesday he called on Asian leaders to accept that democracies are better for trade than “market economies in closed political systems”, and to embrace the right of a free press to “attack” the government as a quid pro quo for better policy making.

The Foreign Office says it has “significant concerns” about the human rights situation in Vietnam, citing the resumption of the death penalty, new internet censorship and the detention of bloggers.

The Prime Minister will pledge to tackle the scourge of human trafficking and slave labour in fishing, clothes manufacturing and other industries by forcing firms in Britain to declare what due diligence they have performed on their supply chains.

He will announce that from October 12,000 large companies – defined as having a turnover of over £36 million a year – operating in the UK will be obliged to issue an annual statement on what efforts they have made to identify slavery and trafficking in their suppliers overseas. Those that refuse will be obliged to say so.

It follows grave allegations of slavery in the Thai fishing industry, and widespread use of child labour in Vietnam. Co-op, the supermarket chain, and Primark, the cheap clothes retailer, welcomed the plans.

The Prime Minister is also concerned by the proliferation of trafficked and forced labour, often involving Vietnamese children in Britain, and in particular working in nail bars and cannabis farms. He will announced closer policing co-operation between the two countries and better education of would-be migrants.

By Matthew Holehouse - The Telegraph - July 29, 2015