South Korea’s President Yoon Suk Yeol is currently on a three-day state visit to the U.K., with the primary goal of strengthening trade and defense ties between the two countries. The visit is expected to further solidify Britain’s “Indo-Pacific tilt” in foreign and trade policy. During his stay, Yoon will be treated with both royal and diplomatic pomp, including a ceremonial welcome with military honor guards, an address to Parliament, and a state banquet hosted by King Charles III at Buckingham Palace.
During his talks with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, the two leaders will focus on trade, technology, and defense. One of the main outcomes of the visit will be the launch of an “upgraded” free trade agreement to replace the existing deal between the two nations. While Britain has been engaged in trade talks with several countries since leaving the European Union in 2020, it has only managed to finalize deals with Australia and New Zealand. However, it also joined the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Another significant aspect of this visit will be discussions on cooperation regarding defense and technology, specifically artificial intelligence. The two countries are looking to sign an agreement on joint naval patrols to enforce U.N. sanctions on North Korea and for Britain to invest in South Korean semiconductor manufacturing as part of international efforts to diversify the supply of computer components. This is particularly important given that 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 anticipated to drive investment, boost trade, and create a lasting friendship in order to maintain global stability and protect the interests of both countries.