Trade deal with South Korea to bring £500m into UK economy

Deputy PM Nick Clegg has signed off a Free Trade Agreement between South Korea and the EU. The deal will boost UK bilateral trade between the two countries, already worth £6.5bn.

by Rebecca Burn-Callander
Last Updated: 19 Aug 2013

Talk about killing two birds with one stone. Clegg is in Seoul to debate anti-terrorism tactics as part of the Nuclear Security Summit but still found time to talk trade with South Korean Prime Minister Kim Hwang-sik. He reckons that this EU trade agreement, announced this morning, will create up to £2bn worth of export opportunities for British businesses and generate £500m for the Exchequer.

'UK and Korean companies will be able to form alliances on multi-billion pound projects across the world,' enthused Clegg. 'It marks a new and even stronger era for trade.' To demonstrate this newfound 'unity', the deputy PM even donned a taekwondo outfit. No joke.

But it seems that South Korean wons are already flowing our way. The South Korean National Pension Service, the fourth largest fund in the world - worth $320bn - announced this morning that it is opening a base in London. This is the only the fund's second foreign office, which already has a presence in New York. Opening this June, it could be quite the cash cow. NPS has already invested more than £1bn in the UK over the past two years through stakes in Gatwick Airport, HSBC's Canary Wharf headquarters and other property dotted around the Capital.

Clegg's cup overfloweth as he gushed: 'NPS's decision to open in London is testament to the economic opportunities in the UK.' His relief is palpable: the Coalition has been trying - somewhat unsuccessfully - to boost inward investment in the UK as a way to ease the pain of austerity cuts. Clegg has picked his new partner carefully: the UK is South Korea's second largest trading partner after Germany, accounting for half its EU spend in 2010 and 2011. 

So, Clegg has found an Anglophile in South Korea. But it may take a ton of wons to really make a impact on our debt-ridden economy...

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