South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol recently arrived in the UK for a three-day state visit, during which he will focus on strengthening 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.
The visit includes various forms of ceremonial and diplomatic treatment, such as a ceremonial welcome with military honor guards, a speech to Parliament, and a state banquet hosted by King Charles III at Buckingham Palace. His talks with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will cover 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, with agreements finalized only with Australia and New Zealand thus far. However, during Yoon’s visit, both leaders are expected to sign an agreement covering cooperation in defense and technology, including artificial intelligence.
The UK plans to invest in South Korean semiconductor manufacturing as part of international efforts to diversify the supply of computer components. Additionally, the two countries will boost defense cooperation by participating in joint naval patrols to enforce UN sanctions on North Korea.
Overall, Yoon’s visit is expected to drive investment, boost trade, and build a long-term friendship between the UK and South Korea.