I write this at a continued time of change and uncertainty, both locally on the Korean peninsula, in the UK and around the world. However, I remain certain that our two countries will sustain a strong commercial relationship that gains in dynamism from year to year. For Britain, opportunities for trade and investment with South Korea – the 11th largest economy in the world – remain as significant and as broad as they did this time last year. British SME’s now export more goods to Korea than anywhere else in the Asia Pacific region outside of China. The numerous synergies that exist between South Korea’s focus on the 4th Industrial Revolution and the UK’s own Industrial Strategy – which are underpinned by the innovative strength of the UK – continue to forge further, meaningful ties. It is no surprise that overall trade between the UK and Korea continues to increase, as it has done since the EU-Korea FTA was first signed in 2011.
As a direct result of hard work on both sides, the UK and Korea have now signed a bilateral continuity Free Trade Agreement. This would come into effect in the event of a No-Deal Brexit and preserve most of the benefits currently available under the EU-Korea FTA. While the process of Britain’s departure from the EU continues to present uncertainty, it is particularly encouraging that we have been able to achieve continuity in our trading arrangements with Korea.
It will continue to be among my topmost priorities as Ambassador to support British companies doing business in South Korea, both through our own Embassy team and in collaboration with our formal partners at the BCCK. Our two teams are working together more closely than ever before to promote trade and resolve market access issues. The result is that British companies coming into this market can expect top-class, joined-up support. A great example of this is the BCCK Defence & Aerospace Committee which was created in late 2018.
After our successful Automotive is GREAT campaign came to an end at this year’s Seoul Motor Show, we are now focusing on two new campaigns, Green is GREAT and Shaping our GREAT Future, which we hope will result in even more collaboration between the UK and Korea as we tackle many of the same challenges including, clean growth, AI and big data and future mobility. Our partnership with the BCCK plays an important part in fostering this greater collaboration, so I encourage BCCK members to get involved in the excellent range of events, initiatives and advocacy activities they offer throughout the year, covering the breadth of business challenges and opportunities here in South Korea.
I am thoroughly committed to championing British business in South Korea in 2019 and beyond, and I am confident that together with the BCCK we can help to create ever-stronger commercial links between our two countries.