South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol is currently on a three-day state visit to the UK. During his time here, he will focus on strengthening trade and defense ties between the two countries. The visit is seen as an opportunity to further consolidate Britain’s “Indo-Pacific tilt” in foreign and trade policy.
As part of his visit, Yoon will be treated with royal and diplomatic pomp. This includes a ceremonial welcome with military honor guards, the opportunity to address Parliament, and a state banquet hosted by King Charles III at Buckingham Palace.
During his talks with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, Yoon will discuss trade, technology, and defense. One of the main objectives of this visit is to launch an “upgraded” free trade agreement to replace the existing deal between the two nations. This new agreement will largely replicate the arrangements that the UK had before it left the European Union.
Britain has been engaged in trade talks with several countries post its exit from the EU in 2020. Although it has only managed to finalize deals with Australia and New Zealand, it also joined the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). The CPTPP is a major free trade agreement covering 11 Pacific Rim economies. It aims to create more open markets by reducing tariffs on goods and services, improving intellectual property protection, and increasing investment flows across borders.
The two countries are also looking to sign an agreement on cooperation regarding defense and technology, with a specific emphasis on artificial intelligence (AI). They plan for joint naval patrols to enforce UN sanctions on North Korea as well as investing in South Korean semiconductor manufacturing as part of international efforts to diversify the supply of computer components. High-quality chips are currently primarily produced in Taiwan, which due to concerns about future supply has been highlighted by the coronavirus pandemic and an increasingly assertive China.