China, Japan and South Korea have formally agreed to launch negotiations on a trilateral free trade agreement (FTA) by the end of this year.
The agreement came when the leaders of the three countries — Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and South Korean President Lee Myung-bak — held talks in Beijing on Sunday.
China, Japan and South Korea are now Asia’s largest, second-largest and fourth-largest economies, which together account for about 20 percent of global gross domestic product (GDP). India is Asia’s third-largest economy.
In 2010, Japan lost its much–vaunted status as the world’s second-biggest economy after the United States, which it had kept for 42 years, to China.
According to a joint declaration issued on Monday, the leaders of China, Japan and South Korea agreed to “further strengthen the economic and trade relations and deepen the convergence of interests.”
“We reiterated that we would enhance cooperation with a view to creating an attractive environment for trade and investment,” the document says.
“Recognizing that the establishment of an FTA among China, Japan and the ROK [South Korea] would contribute to the economic growth and prosperity of the three countries, we hereby endorsed the recommendations from the trade ministers that the trilateral FTA negotiation would be launched within this year,” the document says.
“And to achieve this end, the three countries should immediately start preparation work including domestic procedures and working level consultations,” the document adds.
Contact Hisane Masaki at firstname.lastname@example.org.