The UK and South Korea will launch negotiations to upgrade their free trade agreement and boost trade between the two countries, the UK government said today (21 November).

UK Business and Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch said the government is looking to improve the country’s trade deal with Seoul “to ensure that our trading relationship plays to the UK’s strengths as an advanced, high-tech economy.”

“This refreshed, modernised deal will boost our world-leading services sector while also creating new opportunities for UK exports such as in our world-leading food and luxury goods sectors,” Badenoch added.

In addition, the announcement stated that UK government officials are set to unlock £21bn ($26bn) of investment in energy and infrastructure projects from Korean businesses. the largest chunk of this (£9.7bn) will come from the Republic of Korea Sovereign Wealth Fund, while the Shinhan Financial Group will provide a further £2bn.

Several South Korean companies have already announced their intention to launch FDI projects in the UK. Seah Wind, which manufactures wind turbines, said it will invest £650m in a monopile manufacturing facility at the Teesside Freeport site, creating 750 high-skilled jobs by 2030.

SPC, a manufacturer of food, bread and other confectionary products, promised to allocate £150m to open 200 cafes across the UK, create 400 jobs, as well as involve roughly 200 local businesses in the wider supply chain.

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In total, the new rounds of investment could create more than 1,500 highly skilled jobs and boost the image of the current government, which has been battling high inflation and a cost-of-living crisis.

News about the investment comes as the UK government launched a third investment zone in northern England on Monday (20 November). One of the investments for that will come from Paxman Scalp Cooling, a healthtech company working to minimise hair loss during chemotherapy.

Next week, meanwhile, London is hosting the UK’s Global Investment Summit, meant to pull in over 200 CEOs from around the world.

Speaking about the upcoming trade negotiations and summit, Minister for Investment Lord Dominic Johnson noted: “As we will see at next week’s Global Investment Summit, the UK is one of the best places in the world to invest thanks to the huge growth and innovation that we are fostering in our science and tech sectors. The investments secured today are yet further proof of that and how we continue to strengthen our trade and investment ties with South Korea and the wider Asia Pacific region.”