Min­is­ters pledge early trade deal

Lead­ers from China, Ja­pan and S. Korea reach con­sen­sus in Tokyo talks on FTA

China Daily (USA) - - TOP NEWS - By ZHONG­NAN zhong­nan@chi­nadaily.com.cn Xin­hua News Agency con­trib­uted to this story.

The trade min­is­ters of China, Ja­pan and South Korea have vowed to push ne­go­ti­a­tions to reach an early agree­ment on a free trade deal be­tween the Asian pow­er­houses, it was an­nounced on Sun­day.

Ac­cord­ing to a state­ment from China’s Min­istry of Com­merce, they reached the con­sen­sus on Satur­day in Tokyo dur­ing the 11th round of talks on a free trade agree­ment.

Gao Hucheng, the min­is­ter of com­merce, said that as the three na­tions’ eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment mod­els are deeply com­ple­men­tary, they should ex­plore and ex­pand new ar­eas of co­op­er­a­tion, with China now in a stage of medium-to-high-speed growth.

The min­is­ters agreed to im­prove com­mu­ni­ca­tion on re­gional and mul­ti­lat­eral trade is­sues, in­clud­ing mea­sures to re­duce pro­tec­tion­ism, and to pro­mote the im­ple­men­ta­tion of out­comes from the G20 Sum­mit in Hangzhou in Septem­ber.

They sup­ported a joint re­search re­port on strength­en­ing re­gional con­nec­tiv­ity and sup­ply chain op­er­a­tion, while the South Korean and Ja­panese of­fi­cials backed China’s pro­posal to fur­ther deepen the coun­tries’ busi­ness links in these fields with the As­so­ci­a­tion of South­east Asian Na­tions.

China was ASEAN’s largest trad­ing part­ner last year, with Ja­pan and South Korea the sec­on­dand fifth- largest re­spec­tively. To­tal trade vol­ume be­tween the three coun­tries and ASEAN was $708.6 bil­lion, ac­count­ing for 41 per­cent of the re­gion’s to­tal for­eign trade.

Over the same pe­riod, China, Ja­pan and South Korea in­vested $31.3 bil­lion in ASEAN states, con­tribut­ing 32 per­cent of for­eign di­rect in­vest­ment in the re­gion.

Ac­cel­er­at­ing talks on a tri­lat­eral FTA will help to fur­ther cut trade costs and cre­ate new mar­ket growth points for the ser­vices sec­tors in the three coun­tries, said Lin Gui­jun, a pro­fes­sor at the Uni­ver­sity of In­ter­na­tional Busi­ness and Eco­nom­ics, in Bei­jing.

“As China, South Korea and Ja­pan have solid in­dus­trial foun­da­tions and the fi­nan­cial ca­pa­bil­i­ties to carry out in­ter­na­tional pro­duc­tion ca­pac­ity co­op­er­a­tion, they are also ca­pa­ble of par­tic­i­pat­ing in the in­dus­tri­al­iza­tion process and eco­nomic struc­ture ad­just­ment in the ASEAN re­gion,” Lin said.

Hiroshige Seko, Ja­pan’s min­is­ter of econ­omy, trade and in­dus­try, said his gov­ern­ment is keen to help Ja­panese com­pa­nies adapt to the eco­nomic sit­u­a­tion in China and to ex­pand in­vest­ment and co­op­er­a­tion, in­clud­ing in the ser­vices sec­tor.

He added that Ja­pan sup­ports China’s role in pro­mot­ing trade and in­vest­ment as the ro­tat­ing pres­i­dent of the G20 and that his na­tion is will­ing to im­prove com­mu­ni­ca­tion and co­or­di­na­tion with China to con­trib­ute to re­gional and global eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment.

HUA YI/ XIN­HUA

Com­merce Min­is­ter Gao Hucheng (left) and his coun­ter­parts from Ja­pan and South Korea shake hands on Satur­day in Tokyo dur­ing the 11th round of talks on a free trade agree­ment.

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