Korea has a highly developed and profitable financial services sector including the third largest insurance market and third largest banking market in Asia. The stability of the banking sector is underpinned by strong fundamentals and active regulation. At less than 1%, South Korea’s non-performing loan ratio is low by regional standards. Foreign investors own some 70% of the banking sector. The relaxation of controls on cross-ownership of financial services has further opened up opportunities for market entry, acquisition and business development. As international financial services groups look to develop their footprint in Asia, a presence in Korea is becoming increasingly attractive, and perhaps even essential.
There are already 200 South Korean companies with a presence in the UK, and 15 listed on the London Stock Exchange.
Impact of the EU-Korea FTA
Implemented in July 2011, the EU-Korea FTA will lead to the removal of 97% of all tariffs for UK exporters. The FTA contains provisions on services, public procurement, intellectual property (IP) and sustainable development as well as the liberalization of goods tariffs. The FTA has ushered in enhanced protection for IP rights and improved copyright regulations.