South Korea’s President Yoon Suk Yeol is currently on a three-day state visit to the United Kingdom. During his stay, he will focus on strengthening trade and defense ties between the two countries. The visit aims to further consolidate Britain’s “Indo-Pacific tilt” in foreign and trade policy.
President 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, their discussions will focus on trade, technology, and defense.
One of the primary goals of the visit is to launch an “upgraded” free trade agreement to replace the existing deal between the two nations. Britain has been engaged in trade talks with several countries since its exit from the European Union in 2020. Although it has only managed to finalize deals with Australia and New Zealand, it also joined the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership.
The two countries are also looking to sign an agreement on cooperation regarding defense and technology, with a specific emphasis on artificial intelligence. The defense cooperation includes plans for joint naval patrols to enforce U.N. 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. The high-quality chips are currently primarily produced in Taiwan, which due to concerns about future supply has been highlighted by the coronavirus pandemic and an increasingly assertive China.
The outcome of President Yoon’s visit is expected to drive investment, boost trade, and create a lasting friendship in order to maintain global stability and protect the interests of both countries.