The Korea Herald


Korea inks 37 deals with UK, vows closer ties

Key biz figures attend Korea-UK Business Forum held during Yoon’s state visit

By Im Eun-byel

Published : Nov. 22, 2023 - 19:31

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President Yoon Suk Yeol delivers a congratulatory speech at the Korea-UK Business Forum held at Mansion House, London on Wednesday. (Yonhap) President Yoon Suk Yeol delivers a congratulatory speech at the Korea-UK Business Forum held at Mansion House, London on Wednesday. (Yonhap)

Marking the 140th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Korea and the United Kingdom, the two countries' business leaders held a forum in London to seek cooperation in diverse sectors, from energy and defense to supply chains.

The event, held Wednesday on the sidelines of President Yoon Suk Yeol’s state visit to the UK, was co-hosted by the Federation of Korean Industries and the UK's Department for Business and Trade.

Yoon delivered a congratulatory speech at the forum, stressing the need to improve the environment for trade and investment by renewing the Korea-UK Free Trade Agreement while cooperating in fields such as advanced science technology and zero carbon emission energy.

Some 200 business leaders attended the event, including: Samsung Electronics Executive Chairman Lee Jae-yong, Hyundai Motor Group Executive Chair Chung Euisun, LG Group Chairman Koo Kwang-mo, Lotte Group Chairman Shin Dong-bin, Hanwha Group Vice Chairman Kim Dong-kwan, LS Group Chairman Koo Ja-eun, Hyosung Group Chairman Cho Hyun-joon and Federation of Korean Industries Chairman Ryu Jin.

Key participants from the other side included the chiefs of chip designer Arm, global finance group Standard Chartered, mining giant Rio Tinto and offshore wind developer Corio Generation.

Yoon held a separate talk with around 20 business figures who have attended the forum, showing the willingness to support the exchange between Korea and the UK and to improve the investment climate for businesses.

Before the forum, 31 memoranda of understanding and contracts were signed in the private sector, as businesses promised cooperation with each other in key areas such as energy, construction, defense, finance and biotechnology.

Korean companies, including oil refiner GS Caltex, machinery maker Hyosung Heavy Industries and defense and aerospace unit Hanwha Aerospace, signed contracts worth 270 billion won ($207 million) with British counterparts.

"I hope today's event, which was held to mark the 140 years of relations (between Korea and the UK), could be an opportunity to prepare for another coming 140 years for the business circles in both countries," FKI chief Ryu said in his opening speech, further calling for cooperation related to global supply chains, climate change and in the culture sector.

In the public sector, the Korean and UK governments signed six memoranda of understanding, including an agreement to negotiate the revision of the free trade deal, signed by Korean Trade Minister Bang Moon-kyu and British Business and Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch.

According to the Trade Ministry, the revision to the free trade deal aims to work up a new model to strengthen both countries' economic security and supply chain network, taking a step further than just encouraging an exchange of goods and services.

Other governmental-level deals signed at the event include the agreement to join forces in the semiconductors, clean energy, nuclear and offshore wind energy and defense industries.