Cargo ship

The UK has signed a preliminary free trade agreement with South Korea that will continue the existing deal arrangement with the European Union following Brexit.

The terms of the deal are broadly the same as the current one between the EU and South Korea and will be officially ratified in October before being implemented in November.

It is designed to provide stability in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

The focus of the deal covers cars and auto-parts, which are Korea’s biggest exports to the UK, and oil and cars, which it imports from the UK.

South Korea’s international trade minister Yoo Myung-hee said: “The deal is significant as it eased uncertainties sparked by Brexit, amid the already challenging environment for exports on the escalating trade row between Washington and Beijing.

Signing free trade agreements has been a focus for the UK government as it prepares to leave the European Union. It is part of 40 free trade deals as part of the EU, but leaving without a deal would mean falling out of those agreements immediately. The government has been working to sign ‘continuity agreements’, which would see the terms of existing deals carried through regardless of how the UK leaves the EU. So far, international trade secretary Liam Fox has secured 12 of these deals.