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British MP hopes for enhanced UK-Korea ties under Pacific trade pact

By Sanjay Kumar

Published : Sept. 27, 2023 - 13:18

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Adam Afriyie, Member of Parliament of the United Kingdom speaks in an interview with Korea Herald at Conrad Seoul in Yeongdeungpo-gu, Seoul on Friday. (Sanjay Kumar/The Korea Herald) Adam Afriyie, Member of Parliament of the United Kingdom speaks in an interview with Korea Herald at Conrad Seoul in Yeongdeungpo-gu, Seoul on Friday. (Sanjay Kumar/The Korea Herald)

Adam Afriyie, a UK member of Parliament, hopes to see UK-Korean trade and economic ties advance to the next level, the lawmaker said in an interview with The Korea Herald on Friday.

Afriyie touched on Korea's potential inclusion in the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), highlighting the prospect of increased economic cooperation between the two nations.

The CPTPP is a major free trade pact comprising 11 Asia-Pacific countries.

South Korea became a member of the CPTPP in April 2022 to expand its export opportunities, particularly in the face of increased economic uncertainty. Britain was accepted as a member this year.

"Through CPTPP, the UK and Korea can enhance skills transfer and foster a greater understanding between our people," he said.

"With around 17,000 Koreans in the UK, we have strong connections on which to build,” said Afriyie who represents Windsor from the Conservative Party.

“We share a similar outlook. Korea is a high-technology country. UK is also very creative and high-tech. So I think there is a lot to be learned from each other," Afriyie emphasized.

Adam Afriyie, Member of Parliament of the United Kingdom speaks in an interview with Korea Herald at Conrad Seoul in Yeongdeungpo-gu, Seoul on Thursday. (Sanjay Kumar/The Korea Herald) Adam Afriyie, Member of Parliament of the United Kingdom speaks in an interview with Korea Herald at Conrad Seoul in Yeongdeungpo-gu, Seoul on Thursday. (Sanjay Kumar/The Korea Herald)

UK and Korea are marking 140 years of diplomatic relations by building new partnership agreements and increasing economic security, said Afriyie, touching upon numerous milestones.

"We are serious about our new development partnership,” he said. In May, South Korea and Britain signed a letter of intent to establish a bilateral strategic development partnership.

UK government aims to deepen economic cooperation on climate change and regional security, progress a new South Korea development partnership, and highlight the impact of the UK’s enduring engagement in the Indo-Pacific, according to Afriyie.

When asked about his impression of Korea during his visit, Afriyie assessed South Korea as a well-developed, high-tech economy.

"We are very envious of Korea's internet services and high-speed broadband,” said Afriyie.

“Korean streets are clean and orderly; people are polite and well mannered, especially the younger generation,” Afriyie told The Korea Herald.

Adam Afriyie, Member of Parliament of the United Kingdom speaks in an interview with Korea Herald at Conrad Seoul in Yeongdeungpo-gu, Seoul on Thursday. (Sanjay Kumar/The Korea Herald) Adam Afriyie, Member of Parliament of the United Kingdom speaks in an interview with Korea Herald at Conrad Seoul in Yeongdeungpo-gu, Seoul on Thursday. (Sanjay Kumar/The Korea Herald)

Afriyie's visit to Seoul coincided with his attendance at the Global Tobacco and Nicotine Forum (GTNF), a leading annual conference in the tobacco and nicotine industries.

He commended Seoul as an excellent host for global conferences like GTNF.

He also extended an invitation to Koreans to visit Westminster and Windsor, while emphasizing the deep and fascinating history shared by both nations.

"Like the UK has Windsor Castle, Korea has Gyeongbokgung Palace, which has been around since the 1300s,” said Afriyie, adding that while South Korea has a "long, deep, and tumultuous history ... it is absolutely fascinating.”

"The contrast between the old Korea and the new Korea now is striking and amazing.”