By Claire West

Secretary of State for Business Vince Cable will visit the Republic of Korea this week to see for himself the many trade opportunities that will be made available to UK firms once the EU - Korea Free Trade Agreement comes into force this July.

The landmark deal, which removes up to 97 per cent of tariffs on trade and goods between EU markets and Korea in just three years, has the potential to generate up to £500 million to the UK’s economy based on present trading patterns.
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Whilst in Seoul and Cheonan, the Secretary of State will meet with Government ministers and UK companies that are successfully trading in Korea. He will also launch an investment report which will reveal to Korean companies the many business opportunities that exist in the UK.
Business Secretary Vince Cable said:
“After four years of negotiations, I am delighted that this ambitious Free Trade Agreement has been ratified by the South Korean National Assembly.
“Korea offers countless opportunities for UK companies of all sizes, and across a number of sectors, that want to take that next crucial step and extend their business overseas. Korea is set to make the 10th largest contribution to world growth over the next five years and will become one of the most attractive export destinations globally. There has never been a better time to engage with this market.”
Gwang-young Chung, Director General at KOTRA (Korea Trade- Investment Promotion Agency) says:
“The EU-Korea FTA will strengthen the existing relationship between the UK and Korea in many areas, including trade and investment. This visit by the Business Secretary, The Rt. Hon. Vince Cable MP, will confirm Korea as a desirable destination for many companies from the United Kingdom. In addition, the FDI report released by UKTI will lead to even greater investment from Korea into the UK”
Korea Fact file:
o (South) Korea is Asia’s 4th largest economy and the 12th largest in the world.
o Bilateral trade with the UK is worth around £10bn per year.
o The UK was the number three destination for Korean overseas investment in 2010, and the number one inward investment destination in Europe.
o The EU-Korea Free Trade Agreement (FTA), due to come into force on 1 July 2011, is expected to be worth £16bn to European exporters.
o The UK attracted around £2.25billion of Korean Investment in 2010; more than double any other European country.
o More than 200 Korean companies are already doing business in the UK. The largest investors include Doosan, Korea National Oil Company, Samsung and LG Electronics.
o Samsung, the world’s largest electronics company, has a turnover greater than that of Apple, Google and Microsoft put together.
o Korea has the highest level of broadband penetration (speeds of one hundred megabytes) and 3G mobile usage in the world (an area where it has a global lead in technology).
o There are 15 Korean companies listed on the London Stock Exchange.