UK and South Korea agree to sign free trade deal
10 June 2019, 06:47 | Updated: 10 June 2019, 12:44
The UK has signed a free trade agreement (FTA) in principle with South Korea that will ensure businesses from both countries can continue trading freely after Brexit.
International Trade Secretary Liam Fox signed the joint statement in Seoul with Korean minister of trade Yoo Myung-hee on Monday.
The in-principle agreement aims to maintain stability after Britain leaves the European Union - even in a no-deal scenario - and means businesses will be able to carry on trading on preferential terms with South Korea.
The agreement will be formally signed once it has been subject to formal checks.
"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 FTA when we leave the EU," Dr Fox tweeted.
UK-Korean trade was worth £14.6bn in 2018 and has increased by an average of 12% per year since the EU-Korea Free Trade agreement was signed in 2011.
UK exports have grown by 9.7% since 2017, and sales of British cars to Korea increased by a third to £943m in 2018.
There were 6,900 British VAT-registered businesses exporting goods to Korea in 2017, with 5,400 British businesses importing Korean goods to the UK.
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The UK is South Korea's second largest trading partner among EU members.
Dr Fox said: "The value of trade between the UK and Korea has more than doubled since the EU-Korea agreement was applied in 2011.
"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.
"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."
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.
"Industry is living with constant uncertainty at the moment and agreements such as this will reassure companies at a time of great stress in global trading conditions."
(c) Sky News 2019: UK and South Korea agree to sign free trade deal