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S. Korea, Britain to open vice-minister level dialogue channel ahead of Brexit

South Korea and Britain will open a high-level dialogue channel this week to deal with the aftermath of Britain's departure from the European Union, Seoul's foreign ministry said Sunday.

Via the channel, the two countries will discuss a variety of issues ranging from bilateral economic cooperation and finance to climate change and energy, according to the ministry.

The measure is the latest in a series of preparations ahead of Britain's exit from the EU, known as Brexit, slated for the end of October.


Late last month, the two signed a bilateral free trade agreement to help maintain the continuity of their trade and economic ties even after London's departure from the world's single largest economic bloc.

There have been concerns that South Korean exporters may no longer enjoy the benefits of the existing South Korea-EU FTA when Britain leaves the union without agreeing on post-Brexit conditions.

Britain is South Korea's 18th-largest trading partner and accounts for less than 2 percent of its overall trade.

Exports from Asia's fourth-largest economy to Britain reached $6.36 billion in 2018, down 21 percent from a year earlier, while imports came to $6.8 billion.

South Korea mainly sells automobiles, ships and marine facilities to Britain. In return, key import products from Britain include North Sea crude and pharmaceutical goods.

Concerns over a no-deal Brexit have been looming as London has been facing challenges in finding common ground in the divorce agreement with the EU, especially on the issue of the Northern Irish "backstop."

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson maintains that the backstop, supported by his predecessor, should be removed and that the deal needs to be amended. Currently, there are no checks at the Irish border, but that may change when Britain leaves -- the backstop was designed to prevent physical checks being implemented immediately. (Yonhap)