Cameron hails EU-South Korea deal
The most sweeping trade deal ever concluded between the EU and another country has been hailed by David Cameron as a big boost for the UK.
The Prime Minister, in a statement after the signing of the accord with South Korea in Brussels, declared: "We must put trade absolutely at the heart of the relations that the EU is building with the wider world. The EU-South Korea Free Trade Agreement (FTA) will be good for Europe and good for Britain."
He added: "It will make a great difference not just in terms of encouraging growth and trade with Korea today, but also in laying the ground for further free trade agreements between Europe and other countries, including India, in the future."
Subject to final endorsement from Euro-MPs, the deal is triggered next July with the elimination of virtually all tariffs on goods traded between EU countries and South Korea.
It is the first such European pact with an Asian trading partner, and will be worth an estimated extra £500 million a year for UK firms based on current trading patterns.
Biggest new trade opportunities for UK companies are likely in the areas of legal and financial services, pharmaceuticals, engineering and the low carbon industry, including the renewables sector.
EU exporters as a whole will save about £1.4 billion a year in duties.
Overall, the deal will be worth an extra £16.6 billion a year to EU firms and £11.4 billion to Korean businesses.
Korea was the UK's 26th largest export market in the world last year, and Korea's fourth largest trading partner amongst the 27 EU countries last year.
The UK exported £281 million in financial services to South Korea, £144 million in pharmaceuticals and £148 million in whisky.