The Minister for Trade Policy (Greg Hands)
The first round of United Kingdom-Republic of Korea (RoK) free trade agreement negotiations took place during the week commencing 22 January. A delegation of officials undertook technical discussions in person in Seoul with some talks taking place virtually. This follows a successful state visit in November 2023, which saw negotiations launched by the Secretary of State and the Korean Minister for Trade, Industry and Energy Bang Moon Kyu, as part of a wider business forum event held at Mansion House.
This round was an opportunity to build on the scoping conversations we had held prior to launch and to explore a variety of further areas with the RoK. Overall, these conversations demonstrated our shared ambition to secure an enhanced deal to create new opportunities for business in the UK and the RoK. During the first round, there were discussions across 17 policy areas over 22 sessions.
Our existing agreement came into effect in 2021 and enabled trade continuity between the UK and the RoK following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. It replicates the provisions outlined in the 2011 EU-RoK free trade agreement. Our trade relationship with the RoK has grown substantially since 2011, from £7.4 billion to £18.3 billion in 2022. With strong utilisation of the existing agreement, ongoing growth in bilateral trade, and an ever-strengthening broader strategic relationship, this negotiation represents an opportunity to ensure that a critical set of trading arrangements are secured and optimised for the next phase of UK-RoK relations; to allow more UK businesses to fully realise the opportunities of the RoK market; and to maximise the use of modern trading tools, while protecting businesses and consumers from current and future global pressures.
The second round of negotiations is due to take place in March 2024.
His Majesty’s Government remain clear that any deal will be in the best interests of the British people and the economy. We will not compromise on our high environmental and labour protections, public health, animal welfare and food standards, and we will maintain our right to regulate in the public interest. We are also clear that during these negotiations, the NHS and the services it provides are not on the table.
HM Government will keep Parliament updated as negotiations progress.