By Daniel Hunter

UK companies are today (Wednesday) celebrating new trade partnerships with South Korea, which will boost commercial ties between the two countries.

The announcements come during a State Visit to the UK by The Republic of Korea’s President, Park Geun-hye, in her first official visit to the UK since her election.

At the inaugural JETCO (Joint Economic and Trade Committee) this morning Business Secretary Vince Cable and Korea’s Minister of Trade, Industry & Energy, Yoon Sang-jick, committed to doubling trade by 2020, and doubling Foreign Direct Investment between the UK and South Korea by 2020.

A number of trade deals were also signed including Hyundai Capital UK and Santander Bank announcing a £20 million expansion to provide finance packages to buyers of Hyundai and Kia vehicles as part of a scheme that will create 40 new UK jobs.

Since the EU Korea Free Trade Agreement was signed in July 2011, entering the South Korean market has become easier for UK companies. UK exports to Korea reached a new historical peak in 2012 and the UK is now Korea’s 2nd largest trading partner among EU countries.

Business Secretary Vince Cable said:

“UK goods exports to Korea increased 82% year-on-year in 2012 making South Korea the single largest growth market for UK exports.

“Korea will be the 10th largest contributor to world growth over the next five years and companies such Samsung, LG and Hyundai are already global names. That’s why we're working to making it quicker and easier for British and Korean companies to do business together."

Further trade deals announced during the visit include:

- The University of Oxford was awarded a grant of over £600,000 to conduct research on energy technologies in cooperation with Korean academic and industrial partners.

- Both Newcastle and Strathclyde universities signed separate Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) with the Korea Institute for Advancement of Technology and the Korea Offshore and Shipbuilding Association to commit to three intakes of postgraduate students, with £5m per year to be shared between the two universities.

- Lloyd’s Register and Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Co. Ltd. signed a contract worth more than £6.5 million to perform independent verification of nuclear facilities in the Republic of Korea. The agreement recognises the importance of independent assessment, which promotes greater industry collaboration for safety, reassuring the industry stakeholders and the public of the safety of Korea civil nuclear industry.

- Hana Financial Group signed an MOU with Barclays Group to support Korean corporations initiating or promoting businesses in Africa. Hana Bank will utilise Barclays Africa's broad geographical footprint and capabilities to provide comprehensive and competitive financial services for Korean customers in Africa where Korean banks have yet to establish a presence.

- Imperial College and Postech signed an MOU to stimulate further collaborations between the UK and Korea in the area of Hydrogen & Fuel Cells, leveraging funding from both the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the Korean Government.

- UK Export Finance (UKEF) signed an MOU on Reinsurance with the Korean export credit agency, Korea Trade Insurance Corporation (K-Sure) which sets out how the two agencies will cooperate in the field of export credits.

- UKEF also signed an MOU on Mutual Support with the Export-Import Bank of Korea (Korea Eximbank) setting out how the two agencies will cooperate in the field of export credits and aim to boost co-operation between the two nations in support of national exports.

- The Korea Development Bank, the Korea Venture Capital Association and the British Venture Capital Association have signed an MOU committing support to Korean and UK businesses in third countries, and agreeing to exchange information on venture capital investment.

- Energy Secretary Ed Davey and Korea’s Minister of Trade, Industry & Energy, Yoon Sang-jick signed a MOU committing both governments to cooperate in commercial civil nuclear matters, both in the UK, South Korea and in third countries.

- UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency, which will underpin the pledge between the two countries to double trade and investment by 2020.

- UKTI, the Korea Exchange Bank, and the Korea Federation of Small and Medium Business signed an MOU to formalise their working relationship, help UKTI to broaden its client base in Korea and attract even more high-value investment from the market.

- The UK’s Trade & Investment Minister Lord Green also launched the Korea-UK Global CEO forum which brings together business leaders from both countries to create new commercial partnerships.

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