UK agrees data sharing agreement with South Korea, sparking digital trade hopes

Fri 8 Jul 2022
Posted by: Phillip Adnett
Trade News

South Korea UK Data Agreement

The UK has signed a new data deal with the Republic of Korea to boost data sharing and digital trade between the two countries, which is currently worth more than £1.3bn.

It is the first independent adequacy agreement that the UK has struck with what the government describes as a “priority country” since leaving the EU.

Deal ‘in principle’

The government says British businesses and consumers will benefit from the ‘in principle’ deal, which will:

  • allow more data to be shared without restrictions
  • reduce administrative and financial compliance
  • make it easier for organisations and businesses to trade
  • lower prices for consumers

The agreement will also boost research and innovation, the government claims.

Organisations will no longer need contractual safeguards required under the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR), such as international data transfer agreements or binding corporate rules.

Reducing trade barriers

Director general of the IOE&IT Marco Forgione said: “This new data sharing agreement with South Korea is an excellent step towards reducing barriers to trade with the UK.”

He added: “Any agreement the government can make which speeds up the transfer of data has the potential to make a huge impact. In the UK alone our research found, the full digitalisation of trade data, stands to add over 1%, some £25bn, to UK GDP.”

Shared commitment

John Whittingdale, the prime minister’s trade envoy to Korea, said: “This reflects the strong relationship which already exists between our two countries and our shared commitment to high standards of data protection. By enabling the free flow of data, I have no doubt that this will reduce barriers and help businesses to trade.”

According to communications website, the biggest beneficiaries of agreements such as this are small and medium size enterprises, since they don’t typically employ entire compliance teams to deal with data protection laws.

Editorial director at Scott Bicheno writes: “It’s increasingly hard to see how international trade can hope to thrive without this sort of thing.”


Cyberwire reports that South Korea already has a data adequacy deal with the EU. 

Following Brexit, South Korea was highlighted as a country of focus for the UK as it sought to strike its own such agreements.

Other targets include the US, Australia, Singapore, the Dubai International Finance Centre and Colombia.

Digital Trade

The IOE&IT has partnered with The Centre for Digital Trade and Innovation co-ordinated by the International Chamber of Commerce UK and supported by the Tees Valley Mayor and Combined Authority.

Forgione said “This will see the Institute working closely with the Teesside Freeport to bring together initiatives and expertise to enable industry to develop the latest technologies and approaches to frictionless trade and remove barriers to growth. “

“This agreement and many others the UK have signed further underlines the important role the IOE&IT will play in The Centre for Digital Trade and Innovation. As we move closer to the full digitalisation of trade we look forward to helping UK traders gain the skills they need to take full advantage of this and future agreements.”