UK and South Korea sign an agreement to bolster supply chains

On 7 February, International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan hosted the inaugural UK-South Korea FTA Committee in London and met her Korean counterpart, Yeo Han-koo, to discuss increased trade and collaboration in key areas such as digital, the environment and supporting small business. Trevelyan aims to begin work on an improved trade deal– as the UK continues its post-Brexit tilt towards the economies of the Asia-Pacific.

Following the global chip shortage and other supply chain issues caused by the pandemic, they also signed an agreement to bolster supply chain resilience for key products like semiconductors. This is the first UK agreement of its kind with an Asia-Pacific partner.

The agreement is a precursor to the start of negotiations later in the year to replace an existing agreement that mostly replicates the terms the UK had as a member of the European Union. In the meantime, talks will try to improve supply chain resilience to ensure critical goods, such as computer chips, flow between the two countries. South Korea is the world’s second biggest producer of semiconductors after Taiwan and has pledged to invest $451bn on the activity over the next decade.

Supply chain resilience is increasingly coming to the forefront of tech trade talks.  The EU-US Trade and Technology Council has pledged to seek common ground and strengthen global cooperation on supply chains and Secure Supply Chains has been set up as one the 10 TTC Woking Groups.