South Korea's Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee (L) with Britain's International Trade Secretary Liam Fox during a signing ceremony of an in-principle South Korea-UK free trade agreement in Seoul on June 10, 2019. Photo: AFP/Yonhap

South Korea and the United Kingdom agreed in Seoul on Monday to continue the terms of the current EU-South Korea free trade agreement, bilaterally, after the United Kingdom leaves the European Union.

The agreement, reached on Monday between South Korea’s Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee and visiting British counterpart Liam Fox, marks the biggest preliminary post-Brexit FTA deal yet agreed by London in Asia, or, indeed, globally.

Last year, the trade relationship between the UK and South Korea was worth US$18.5 billion and has increased by an average of 12% per year since the EU-Korea FTA was signed in 2011, according to a communique from the UK’s Seoul embassy.

At a time when London is scrambling to reduce the risks posed by Brexit, G11 South Korea is the most significant economy among 12 nations and trading blocs that the UK has so far agreed to establish free trade agreements with after the country leaves the EU.

With the UK’s ruling Conservative Party in the midst of a leadership contest amid an atmosphere of general political disarray, the format Brexit – the UK’s exit from the EU – will take is as yet unknown. While it may be a negotiated deal, it is possible that the UK may “crash out” of the EU without an agreement, a scenario some business leaders consider calamitous.

While the UK is set to Brexit on October 31, it is also possible that date may be extended. Amid such uncertainty, the agreement signed in Seoul was hailed for offering both British and South Korean businesses predictability.

Eased uncertainties

“The deal is significant as it eased uncertainties sparked by Brexit, amid the already challenging environment for exports on the escalating trade row between Washington and Beijing,” South Korean Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee said, according to the Yonhap news agency. “We will make our best efforts to help South Korean businesses maintain their operations with Britain without troubles.”

“Providing continuity in our trading relationship will allow businesses in the UK and Korea to keep trading without any additional barriers, which will help us further increase trade in the years ahead,” said the UK’s International Trade Secretary Fox, according to a communique from the British Embassy in Seoul.

“As we face growing global economic headwinds, our strong trading relationship will be crucial in driving economic growth and supporting jobs throughout the UK and Korea.”

The agreement had a thumbs up from exporters of both UK products and services.

Corporate Relations Director, Asia Pacific, Paul Kelleher of alcoholic beverages firm Diageo said he “warmly welcomes” the agreement, according to the communique, while Grant Hughes, the managing partner of law firm Clifford Chance, said: “We are pleased to hear the news of a trade deal which will allow for firms such as ours to maintain our local presence.”

With trade giant South Korea a G11 economy and home to such powerhouse global brands as Samsung and Hyundai, the agreement may be touted by the UK’s pro-Brexit ruling Conservative Party as a triumph heralding a freer UK hand in cutting trade deals.

However, the irony that the future deal will be closely modeled on an EU-South Korea deal signed in 2010 – when Brexit was not even a speck on the political horizon – is unlikely to be overlooked.

Biggest deal so far

Monday’s deal, which agrees to continue the terms of current EU FTAs post-Brexit, is the 12th signed between the UK and its trade partners, a source at the British Embassy in Seoul told Asia Times.

According to the communique, this means the UK will have secured agreements with countries that account for 63% of trade now covered by EU agreements, for which the UK is seeking continuity – an increase from 28% only three months ago.

But beyond South Korea, the trade blocs and countries with whom agreements have been reached are not, in the main, star global economies.

According to the UK government, they are: the CARIFUM bloc – encompassing a clutch of Caribbean islands and Central American states – Chile, the Eastern and Southern Africa trade bloc, the Faroe Islands, Iceland and Norway, Israel, Liechtenstein, Pacific States, the Palestinian Authority and Switzerland.

Strikingly, the EU-Japan FTA, which entered force this February, is not included in the list. A source at the UK embassy noted that Monday’s agreement to transition the EU-South Korea FTA to a South Korea-UK FTA, post-Brexit, does not provide a model for further transitions – such as the EU-Japan FTA.

And how detailed the outlined South Korea-UK deal – described as a “joint statement” in the British communique – is, remains unclear. It also appears to be preliminary: “This marks the end of formal trade discussions and the UK-Korea Free Trade Agreement will be subject to final checks before it formally signed,” the communique read.

The South Korea-EU FTA took three years to negotiate, was signed in 2010 and entered implementation in 2011.

After the UK exits the EU, any final agreement to carry over the 2010 agreement will need to be ratified by both parliaments before taking effect.

Join the Conversation


  1. I’m really impressed with your writing skills and also with the layout on your blog. Is this a paid theme or did you customize it yourself? Either way keep up the excellent quality writing, it is rare to see a great blog like this one these days..

  2. Hello there I am so delighted I found your site, I really found you by accident, while I was researching on Askjeeve for something else, Anyhow I am here now and would just like to say thanks for a marvelous post and a all round exciting blog (I also love the theme/design), I don’t have time to go through it all at the minute but I have bookmarked it and also included your RSS feeds, so when I have time I will be back to read a great deal more, Please do keep up the superb work.

  3. I’m typically to running a blog and i really recognize your content. The article has actually peaks my interest. I’m going to bookmark your website and maintain checking for brand spanking new information.

  4. I like this website so much, saved to favorites. “Respect for the fragility and importance of an individual life is still the mark of an educated man.” by Norman Cousins.

  5. I do not even know how I ended up here, but I thought this post was great. I do not know who you are but definitely you are going to a famous blogger if you are not already 😉 Cheers!

  6. This web site is mostly a walk-through for the entire info you needed about this and didn’t know who to ask. Glimpse right here, and you’ll definitely uncover it.

  7. What i do not realize is if truth be told how you are now not really a lot more well-liked than you may be now. You are very intelligent. You understand therefore significantly with regards to this topic, made me for my part consider it from a lot of varied angles. Its like women and men aren’t fascinated except it’s something to do with Girl gaga! Your personal stuffs outstanding. All the time deal with it up!

  8. It is truly a great and useful piece of info. I¦m satisfied that you just shared this useful info with us. Please keep us up to date like this. Thank you for sharing.

  9. Appreciating the time and energy you put into your site and in depth information you offer. It’s good to come across a blog every once in a while that isn’t the same outdated rehashed information. Great read! I’ve bookmarked your site and I’m including your RSS feeds to my Google account.

  10. Today, I went to the beachfront with my children. I found a sea shell and gave it to my 4 year old daughter and said “You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear.” She placed the shell to her ear and screamed. There was a hermit crab inside and it pinched her ear. She never wants to go back! LoL I know this is totally off topic but I had to tell someone!

  11. There are some fascinating closing dates on this article but I don’t know if I see all of them middle to heart. There’s some validity however I’ll take hold opinion till I look into it further. Good article , thanks and we want extra! Added to FeedBurner as well

  12. Thanks for some other informative website. Where else may I get that kind of information written in such an ideal method? I’ve a mission that I am just now working on, and I’ve been at the look out for such information.

  13. I’ve been exploring for a little bit for any high quality articles or blog posts on this kind of space . Exploring in Yahoo I eventually stumbled upon this website. Reading this info So i am happy to exhibit that I’ve an incredibly good uncanny feeling I discovered exactly what I needed. I such a lot without a doubt will make certain to don’t overlook this web site and provides it a look regularly.

  14. Hi there, I found your web site by the use of Google at the same time as looking for a comparable matter, your website came up, it appears to be like good. I’ve bookmarked it in my google bookmarks.

  15. I will immediately take hold of your rss feed as I can’t in finding your email subscription link or e-newsletter service. Do you’ve any? Kindly let me realize so that I could subscribe. Thanks.

  16. Greetings! This is my first comment here so I just wanted to give a quick shout out and say I truly enjoy reading through your articles. Can you suggest any other blogs/websites/forums that go over the same topics? Thank you so much!

  17. I believe that is one of the so much important information for me. And i’m glad reading your article. However wanna commentary on few common things, The website style is great, the articles is actually great : D. Excellent process, cheers

  18. Hiya, I am really glad I have found this info. Nowadays bloggers publish only about gossips and net and this is actually frustrating. A good website with interesting content, that’s what I need. Thanks for keeping this web site, I’ll be visiting it. Do you do newsletters? Can not find it.

  19. It?¦s really a cool and useful piece of info. I?¦m glad that you just shared this useful info with us. Please stay us up to date like this. Thank you for sharing.

  20. Good – I should definitely pronounce, impressed with your website. I had no trouble navigating through all the tabs and related information ended up being truly simple to do to access. I recently found what I hoped for before you know it in the least. Reasonably unusual. Is likely to appreciate it for those who add forums or something, web site theme . a tones way for your customer to communicate. Excellent task.

  21. That is the suitable blog for anybody who desires to find out about this topic. You realize a lot its nearly arduous to argue with you (not that I actually would need…HaHa). You positively put a brand new spin on a subject thats been written about for years. Great stuff, just great!

  22. Hi, i read your blog from time to time and i own a similar one and i was just curious if you get a lot of spam remarks? If so how do you protect against it, any plugin or anything you can advise? I get so much lately it’s driving me crazy so any support is very much appreciated.

  23. Hi I am so thrilled I found your weblog, I really found you by error, while I was searching on Bing for something else, Regardless I am here now and would just like to say thank you for a tremendous post and a all round thrilling blog (I also love the theme/design), I don’t have time to browse it all at the moment but I have bookmarked it and also added your RSS feeds, so when I have time I will be back to read much more, Please do keep up the superb job.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *