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France and South Korea

Political relations

France has excellent relations with South Korea. President Moon’s state visit to France on 13-16 October 2018 strengthened ties between our two countries and enabled the adoption of a joint declaration which bolsters the bilateral relationship: This relationship is based on four priorities: 1) dialogue on major international issues (Korean Peninsula, fight against climate change, support for an open, multilateral free trade system, within the framework of strategic dialogue between Foreign Ministers); 2) development of cooperation in the area of diplomacy, security and defence; 3) deeper economic relations (including in the area of cross-investment and innovation); 4) development of exchanges and cooperation in the areas of science, education, culture and sports. Furthermore, the strategic dialogue which took place on 24 May 2019 between the two Foreign Ministers reinforced the bilateral relationship.

Trade

For France, South Korea is a leading partner in Asia. It is France’s third-largest trading partner in the region (€8.1 billion in trade in 2018, with a French trade surplus since 2011). Given that France and Korea are positioned as major centres for innovation and the creative economy, our two countries are working to develop their industrial and technological cooperation (start-ups, key future technologies). Our exports have gradually become more diversified and include: cutting-edge ground transport equipment and aeronautical products, including latest-generation Airbus A350s; perfumes and cosmetics; chemicals; industrial and agricultural machinery and agrifood products. France promotes greater access for its products to the Korean market, including in the agri-food sector. In 2018, French FDI stock in Korea reached €4.9 billion (up 15% on 2017) and Korean FDI stock in France was €1.16 billion (up 9% on 2017). France is the third-largest European investor in Korea, after the Netherlands and Germany. In 2019, Korean funds acquired over €4 billion in third-party property in France.

Academic, scientific and technical cooperation

South Korea is a country of scientific excellence, which is attractive to French research bodies. Our cooperation enabled the development of several joint research structures, including the Institut Pasteur Korea and three international partner laboratories of the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS). The adoption in 2018 of the French-Korean action plan for science and technology makes the development of academic, scientific and technological cooperation one of the priorities of our bilateral relationship.

France is today the sixth-largest host country for South Korean students with 3,270 of them studying in France and seven Alliances Françaises in Korea.
The French-Korean joint committee for science and technology in July 2018 defined several bilateral priorities: life sciences and biotechnology; artificial intelligence; aeronautics and space; environmental sciences and climate. In addition, in 2018 a joint fund on artificial intelligence was launched, which will support the work of four Korean and French universities and research centres.
The opening of Korea House at the International University Campus in Paris in December 2018 was an important sign of the vibrant human exchanges between our two countries.

Updated: August 2020