LONDON, United Kingdom - South Korea President Yoon Suk Yeol is set to launch negotiations a new free trade deal with the UK during this week's three-day state visit, Downing Street said Monday.
President Yoon Suk Yeol and his wife Kim Keon-hee
President Yoon and First Lady Kim Keon Hee formally begin the trip on Tuesday, with King Charles III hosting his first state visitors since his coronation in May.
Yoon will also hold bilateral talks with UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.
"Trade and investment is expected to be a key focus of the visit, with... trade secretaries from both countries preparing to sign an agreement to launch the negotiations for an upgraded modern, world-leading Free Trade Agreement (FTA) on Wednesday," said Downing Street.
The UK government is keen to strike new deals with countries around the world following its departure from the European Union, including with fast-growing economies in the Indo-Pacific region.
London also hopes that a new "Downing Street Accord", set to be signed on Wednesday, will help secure "robust supply chains" and increase technology sharing and defence cooperation.
"As two nations focused on innovation, harnessing new technologies and defending the international rules-based order, the UK and Republic of Korea are natural partners," said Sunak.
"Through our new Downing Street Accord, we will drive investment, boost trade and build a friendship that not only supports global stability, but protects our interests and lasts the test of time.
"I know a Free Trade Agreement fit for the future will only drive further investment," he added.
London said the visit had secured £21 billion ($26.2 billion) investment by South Korean firms into the UK, backing renewables and infrastructure projects.
Yoon, meanwhile, told his cabinet last week that "the upcoming visit will serve as a springboard for further deepening economic cooperation between the two countries," according to local media.
That cooperation will centre on science and technology, with South Korea aiming to expand business opportunities and high-tech industry supply chains, he added.
Major business figures including Samsung Electronics Chairman Lee Jae-yong and Hyundai Motor chief Chung Eui-sun will join Yoon on the visit.
The UK last year launched consultation for an enhanced free trade agreement, to upgrade the existing accord which replicates the EU's deal with South Korea.
UK ministers are eyeing an expansion of exports in digital, business and financial services.
Annual trade in goods and services between the UK and South Korea is worth £16.1 billion, according to latest figures.