United Kingdom and S Korea signal preliminary substitute deal

South Korea trade deal on the table | Business

The UK and South Korea have signed an in principle free trade agreement (FTA) that seeks to maintain existing trade arrangements post-Brexit.

Worldwide trade secretary, Liam Fox, agreed the deal with South Korean trade minister, Yoo Myung-hee, in Seoul, on Monday.

This means that, even if the United Kingdom leaves the European Union without agreements in place about what their relationship would be like in future, South Korean companies will be able to ship their main export items, such as industrial products, without tariffs under the Korea-EU FTA, which took effect in 2011.

In 2018, UK-South Korean bilateral trade was worth €16.4 billion and has increased by 12% a year since the conclusion of the EU-South Korea Free Trade Agreement in 2011.

The country already has a free trade agreement in place with the EU and this new one will help it continue trade with Britain after its departure from the Union.

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It would cover South Korean exports including cars and auto parts.

It is Britain's first post-Brexit trade deal in Asia and follows similar agreements with nations including Chile, Iceland, Norway and Switzerland, AFP said.

"This means that whatever happens with #Brexit, there will be total continuity in trade between our two countries AND the basis for an ambitious future".

Stephen Phipson, chief executive of Make UK, the manufacturers' organisation, said: "This is a welcome step which, if confirmed soon, will hopefully kick start the process of signing further trade agreements with other vital trading partners". The agreement is roughly in line with the terms of the existing Korea-EU FTA.

And how detailed the outlined South Korea-UK deal - described as a "joint statement" in the British communique - is, remains unclear.

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