The UK and Korea will today sign a continuity Free Trade Agreement that will allow businesses to keep trading freely after Brexit on Thursday 31 October.
Secretary of State for International Trade, Liz Truss and the Korean Minister of Trade, Yoo Myung-Hee will meet in London to sign the agreement, protecting annual trade flows between the two countries, with total trade worth £14.6bn in 2018.
This agreement, when brought into force, will allow businesses to keep trading freely after we leave the EU on 31 October, safeguarding British jobs in key sectors including manufacturing, technology and professional services.
The agreement will help to further strengthen the trading relationship between the UK and Korea that has already increased by an average of 12% per year since the EU-Korea Free Trade Agreement was signed in 2011.
Trade continuity agreements signed so far now cover countries accounting for £89 billion of trade, an increase from £39bn in March 2019.
Secretary of State for International Trade Liz Truss MP said: “My priority is to make sure that British businesses are fully prepared for Brexit and ready to trade on Thursday 31 October. That’s why I’m delighted to sign this trade deal today with one of the biggest markets covered by existing EU trade agreements.
“It will allow businesses like Bentley and Denby to keep trading as they do today, and they will be able to take advantage of the opportunities that Brexit offers.”
The UK-Korea FTA replicates, as far as possible, the effects of the EU-Korea trade deal, allowing businesses to continue to benefit from preferential terms. In 2017, there were 6,900 British businesses exporting goods to Korea, worth around £5.8bn.
Trade Minister Yoo said: “Today’s signing of the FTA will remove much Brexit uncertainty out of our long, valuable economic partnership. In this challenging time, we took a proactive step, and as a result, our Free Trade Agreement today sends a signal to the world of our strong, collective support for free, open, rules-based trade.
“Building on today’s signing, I hope to see further deepening of our economic partnership, and Korea and the UK walking together on the path of prosperity and a brighter future.”
The news has been welcomed by businesses in industries such as automotive, technology, renewable energy, retail and ceramics. Some of the fastest-growing exports to Korea include the sale of British cars, which increased to £943m in 2018, up by third on the year before.
Bentley’s exports of the British classic luxury car to Korea have gone from strength to strength, with a thirty-fold increase in exports between 2006 and 2015, from 10 cars driving on Korean roads in 2006 to over 380 in 2015.
Warren Clarke, Bentley Brand Manager South Korea added: “As the first luxury car brand to enter the market in 2006 Bentley Motors sees South Korea as very significant to our future business plans. The stability this FTA brings is very much welcomed and will enable us to continue to promote the very best of British automotive engineering and craftsmanship as we grow our business in South Korea.
“With our fantastic business partner here and a very strong and loyal customer base we are very excited about our future plans for the market.”