Ministers pledge early trade deal
Leaders from China, Japan and S. Korea reach consensus in Tokyo talks on FTA
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.
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.