CPTPP applicants the UK and South Korea in deal to boost supply chains impacted by pandemic

Mon 7 Feb 2022
Posted by: Noelle McElhatton
Trade News

south korea uk

The UK and South Korea today (Monday 7 February) signed an agreement to reinforce pandemic-damaged supply lines for key products like semiconductors.

Trade minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan hosted the UK-Korea Trade Committee to begin work on an improved trade deal with counterpart Yeo Han-koo – as the UK continues its post-Brexit tilt towards the economies of the Asia-Pacific.

“This is our Indo-Pacific tilt in action – strengthening ties with one of the largest economies in the world,” Trevelyan said.

Talks later in year

Formal negotiations to improve an existing agreement are expected to begin later this year, reports Reuters.

In the meantime, talks will try to improve supply chain resilience to ensure critical goods, such as computer chips, flow between the two countries.

South Korea is the world’s second biggest producer of semiconductors after Taiwan and has pledged to invest $451bn on the activity over the next decade, reports Data Center Dynamics.

Growth market for UK

Trade between the UK and South Korea – the world’s ninth biggest economy – totalled £13.3 billion in the year to September 2021 – up 11% on 2020. In particular, UK exports to South Korea have seen strong growth, increasing by 12% in the same year.

The Korea Herald reports that Yeo will hold an initial meeting of the South Korea-Britain free trade agreement (FTA) committee with Trevelyan. The two nations kicked off the FTA on 1 January 2021, to maintain continuity of trade activities after Brexit.

During the meeting, the two sides discussed ways to deepen cooperation on supply chains, digital matters and carbon neutrality, the ministry said.

CPTPP hopefuls

Also on the table were the countries’ applications to join of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

The UK put in an application for CPTPP membership on 1 February last year. South Korea has said it will submit an application in mi-April, according to reports.

The South Korean talks add to an ongoing series of free trade discussions for 2022, a year that Trevelyan has said will be a “five-star year for UK trade”.