South Korea’s President Yoon Suk Yeol has embarked on a three-day state visit to the U.K. The main focus of his visit will be to strengthen trade and defense ties between the two countries. A formal visit is hoped to further cement Britain’s “Indo-Pacific tilt” in foreign and trade policy. During his stay, Yoon will be treated with both royal and diplomatic pomp, which includes a ceremonial welcome with military honor guards, the opportunity to address Parliament, and a state banquet hosted by King Charles III at Buckingham Palace.
During his visit, the president will hold talks with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. Their discussions will concentrate on trade, technology, and defense. This visit will also see the launch of an “upgraded” free trade agreement to replace the existing deal between the two nations, which largely replicates the arrangements the U.K. had before it left the European Union. Britain has been engaged in trade talks with several countries since its departure from the EU 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 looking to sign an agreement on cooperation regarding defense and technology, with a specific emphasis on artificial intelligence (AI). The defense cooperation includes plans for joint naval patrols to enforce United Nations 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 Yoon’s visit is expected to drive investment, boost trade and create a lasting friendship that will maintain global stability while protecting both countries’ interests.