Worldwide: United Kingdom And Korea Sign Continuity Free Trade Agreement


On August 22, 2019, the United Kingdom (UK) and the Republic of Korea (Korea or South Korea) signed a continuity Free Trade Agreement (FTA).1 In the event of a no-deal Brexit on October 31, 2019, the UK – Korea trade agreement will enter into force, allowing British and Korean businesses to continue to trade on the same preferential terms under the European Union (EU) – Korea FTA.  

To seek continuity for existing EU trade agreements to which the UK participates as an EU Member State, the UK has so far signed 13 trade agreements with 38 countries, for instance, with Chile and Switzerland.2 South Korea is the first Asian trading partner to sign a trade continuity agreement with the UK to be applied after Brexit.

The UK – Korea trade agreement replicates the EU – Korea FTA, as far as possible, with some technical changes. Below we provide a brief description tariff rules, preferential origin, agricultural safeguard measures and intellectual property under the new UK – Korea FTA. The full text of the agreement is available here.3


The UK and Korea agreed to apply in the new agreement the same concessions that existed under the EU – Korea FTA, which has been applying since July 2011. Under the EU – Korea FTA, zero tariffs are applied to all the industrial goods and 98% of agricultural goods.4 This will be equally applicable to bilateral trade between the UK and Korea under the UK – Korea FTA.5 Accordingly, 99% of British products would enter the Korean market without tariffs, and vice versa. In particular, automobiles and automotive parts will be exported without tariffs.

Rules of Origin

The UK and Korea further agreed that UK products with EU-27 contents would benefit from preferential treatment under the UK – Korea FTA.6 This rule is temporarily applicable for three years.7 This is meant to allow British and Korean companies to use EU parts and still benefit from preferential UK-Korea FTA origin, for a transitional period that is long enough to enable them to adjust their supply chains.

Note that to date the EU has refused to do anything similar, and that the European Commission has repeatedly stated that UK goods will cease to be considered as originating immediately after Brexit.

Agricultural Safeguard Measures

Compared to those under the EU – Korea FTA, the UK and Korea lowered the aggregate volume of imports that would trigger agricultural safeguard measures in the form of a higher import duty. The lower aggregate volume would apply when introducing agricultural safeguard measures with respect to beef, pork, apple, malt and malt barley, potato starch, ginseng, sugar, alcohol, and dextrins.8 

Intellectual Property

The UK and Korea also agreed to continue to recognize and protect geographical indications for two spirits made in the UK –  Scotch Whisky and Irish Whisky, and 64 Korean agricultural products – including Boseong Green Tea (보성녹차), Sunchang Traditional Gochujang (순창전통고추장), Icheon Rice (이천쌀), and Korean Red Ginseng (고려홍삼).9

Looking Ahead

The trade agreement between the UK and Korea now needs to be ratified by both parliaments before entering into force. After approval from the legislative branch, the agreement will take effect either on October 31, 2019 in the event of a no-deal Brexit, or at the end of the transitional period if the UK ratifies the Withdrawal Agreement.

As the UK – Korea FTA replicates the EU – Korea FTA, the UK and Korea have agreed to re-open negotiations within two years to revise the UK – Korea trade agreement to go beyond the EU – Korea FTA. In particular, if the UK leaves the EU with the Withdrawal Agreement, the UK and Korea agreed to start negotiations promptly during the transitional period.

Accordingly, it remains important to monitor these re-negotiations, in particular rules of origin, since the UK – Korea FTA merely allows UK products with EU-27 contents to benefit from preferential treatment under the agreement temporarily for three years. 

Nevertheless, the UK – Korea FTA is a very welcome development. It has eliminated some uncertainty over no-deal Brexit and provides a modicum of stability to British and Korean companies in what is a very volatile environment. It also shows the other trade partners of the EU a pragmatic example of what they could negotiate themselves with the UK.

Steptoe's trade team is uniquely positioned to help businesses understand the UK – Korea FTA in comparison with the EU – Korea FTA, assess the risk on operations, and provide feasible solutions.


1 UK Department for International Trade (DIT), UK and Korea to sign trade continuity deal to ensure businesses are ready to trade post-Brexit (21 August 2019),

2 UK DIT, UK trade agreements with non-EU countries in a no-deal Brexit (15 August 2019), The rest include Andean countries in the western part of South America, some Central American countries, the Caribbean Forum (CARIFORUM) trade block, Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) trade bloc, Faroe Islands, Iceland and Norway, Israel, Liechtenstein, Pacific states, and the Palestinian Authority.

3 FTA Korea, UK – Korea FTA, While the website is in Korean, it provides the English text of the UK – Korea FTA by chapters.

4 Under the EU – Korea FTA, Article 2.5 states the elimination of each party's customs duties in accordance with schedules included in Annex 2-A. See tariff schedule of Korea and the EU under the EU – Korea FTA.

5 Similarly, under the UK – Korea FTA, Article 2.5 states the elimination of each party's customs duties in accordance with schedules included in Annex 2-A. See the tariff schedule of Korea and the UK under the UK – Korea FTA (only available in Korean).

6 Under the UK – Korea FTA, Protocol Concerning the Definition of 'Originating Products' and Methods of Administrative Cooperation (Protocol on Rules on Origin) provides rules of origin. Article 3.1 of the Protocol on Rules on Origin under the UK – Korea FTA states:

Notwithstanding Article 2, products shall be considered as originating in a Party if such products are obtained there, incorporating materials originating in the other Party or in the EU, provided that the working or processing carried out goes beyond the operations referred to in Article 6. It shall not be necessary that such materials have undergone sufficient working or processing. (emphasis added)

7 Footnote to Article 3.1 of the Protocol Concerning the Definition of 'Originating Products' and Methods of Administrative Cooperation under the UK – Korea FTA states:

Cumulation with the EU as provided for in Article 3 will cease to apply three years after the entry into force of this Agreement. Not later than two years following the date of the entry into force of this Agreement, the Parties shall commence a review of this Article. The Parties shall continue to seek and work towards mutually beneficial and business-friendly rules of origin in the future which facilitate trade between Korea and the UK. (emphasis added)

8 Under both the EU – Korea FTA and the UK – Korea FTA, Article 3.6 provides rules on agricultural safeguard measures, and Annex 3 provides aggregate volumes of imports that would trigger agricultural safeguard measures and a list of relevant agricultural goods. See Article 3.6 and Annex 3 of the EU – Korea FTA, and Article 3.6 and Annex 3 of the UK – Korea FTA.

9 Article 10.17, Annex 10-A and Annex 10-B  of the UK – Korea FTA.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner, LLP
In association with
Related Topics
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner, LLP
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions