South Korea’s President Yoon Suk Yeol is currently on a three-day state visit to the U.K., with the primary objective of strengthening trade and defense ties between the two countries. The visit is expected to further solidify Britain’s “Indo-Pacific tilt” in foreign and trade policy. During his stay, Yoon will be treated with both royal and diplomatic pomp, including a ceremonial welcome with military honor guards, an opportunity to address Parliament, and a state banquet hosted by King Charles III at Buckingham Palace.
During his talks with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, the president will focus on trade, technology, and defense. One of the most significant outcomes of this visit will be the launch of an “upgraded” free trade agreement that aims to replace the existing deal between the two nations. Although Britain has been engaged in trade talks with several countries post its exit from the EU in 2020, it has only managed to finalize deals with Australia and New Zealand. However, it also joined the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).
The two countries are also looking to sign an agreement on cooperation regarding defense and technology, specifically focusing on artificial intelligence. The defense cooperation includes plans for joint naval patrols to enforce UN sanctions on North Korea. Additionally, Britain intends to invest 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 has been highlighted by concerns about future supply due to issues related to China’s aggression and geopolitical tensions in the region.
Overall, Yoon’s visit is expected to drive investment, boost trade, and create a lasting friendship between South Korea and Britain that will maintain global stability while protecting both countries’ interests.