The UK’s export credit agency (ECA) UKEF has signed MOUs with Kexim and K-Sure, the South Korean ECAs.

Rather than supporting exports or imports into either the UK or Korea, the overarching aim of the agreements is to support collaboration between UK and Korean firms in third countries, requiring exports from both nations.

A UKEF spokesperson tells GTR: “The MOUs are not agreements focused on trade between the UK and South Korea. The agreements are frameworks that set out the circumstances under which UKEF and Kexim or K-Sure can cooperate on the provision of export credits, for contracts that involve the supply of goods and services from both the UK and Korea to third countries.”

The co-operation could come in the form of reinsurance from one ECA to another and the mechanics of such reinsurance has been set-out in the MOUs, without referring to any individual projects.

Kexim is the Korean ECA that engages in lending, with K-Sure typically insuring exports. The agreement with Kexim, then, includes an ambition to support US$1bn of exports over the course of three years.

The spokesperson is keen to state, though, that “meeting such an ambition is entirely dependent upon both UK and Korean companies winning export contracts in third countries and where there is a shared perception that supporting these exports would be helped by activating these agreements”.

The export economies of the UK and Korea are experiencing acute differences. In October, South Korea experienced a trade surplus of more than US$4bn – a month in which exports reached a record high of US$50.5bn, a year-on-year increase of 7.3%.

The leap came on the back of strong sales of consumer goods to the EU and the US. The country is home to the likes of Samsung, LG, Hyundai, Daewoo and Kia – all of which expect to benefit from rejuvenated consumer demand in the west.

Conversely, in September, the UK experienced its widest trade deficit for almost a year (£9.8bn, or about US$15.6bn). The fall came in spite of the UK’s chancellor George Osborne’s declaration that the economy was on the road to recovery. Osborne has previously said the engine of growth will be UK exports.