South Korea’s President Yoon Suk Yeol has arrived in the UK for a three-day state visit, with the primary focus being to strengthen trade and defense ties between the two countries. The visit is of particular interest to Britain as it hopes to solidify its “Indo-Pacific tilt” in foreign and trade policy.
During his stay, Yoon will receive various forms of ceremonial and diplomatic treatment, including a ceremonial welcome with military honor guards, a speech to Parliament, and a state banquet hosted by King Charles III at Buckingham Palace. He will also hold talks with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on trade, technology, and defense, with the two countries officially launching discussions on an “upgraded” free trade agreement.
Since leaving the EU in 2020, the UK has been actively pursuing trade talks with multiple countries. While agreements have been finalized only with Australia and New Zealand thus far, the two leaders are expected to sign an agreement covering cooperation in defense and technology, including artificial intelligence. Additionally, the UK plans to invest in South Korean semiconductor manufacturing as part of international efforts to diversify the supply of computer components. The two countries will also boost defense cooperation, including joint naval patrols to enforce UN sanctions on North Korea.
The agreements made during Yoon’s visit are expected to drive investment, boost trade, and build a long-term friendship between the UK and South Korea.