China proposes immediate start of East Asia FTA talks

08:32, March 02, 2011      

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East Asia should wait no more for the opening of dialogues over the establishment of a free trade area (FTA) that will help facilitate the global economic recovery, a Chinese commerce official said in Anhui province on Tuesday.

Yu Jianhua, assistant commerce minister, said that the conditions for the set-up of an FTA in East Asia had been fairly good as the mutual cooperation and dependence in trade among the Association of the South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), China, Japan and the Republic of Korea (ROK) had been increasingly integrated.

More than half of the total trade of East Asia had been carried out within the region, he said at an international seminar opened in east China's Anhui Province.

China, Japan and the Republic of Korea have each inked a free trade agreement with the ASEAN so far. Last year, study on the China-Japan-ROK FTA was kicked off and expected to be completed by 2012.

After the conclusion of the joint studies over the China-ROK FTA in 2010, four ASEAN work teams have already begun research over the East Asia FTA and the Comprehensive Economic Partnership for East Asia.

"The ongoing economic integration has provided a rare opportunity for the establishment of the East Asia FTA, and relevant talks should be started no later than 2012," said Yu.

Citing the estimates jointly made by experts from the ASEAN, China. Japan and ROK, Yu said that the East Asia FTA would raise the overall annual gross domestic product of the ASEAN by 3.6 percent from 2010 to 2020, while China, Japan and ROK would see their annual GDP jump by 0.9 percent on average during the same period.

To start such dialogues, however, participants to the four-day International Seminar on Trade Facilitation for ASEAN, China, Japan and ROK said that the first step should be to streamline existing trade agreements within the region to avoid overlapping and to meet pressing needs.

The ASEAN Trade Negotiating Committee will open a three-day meeting on Wednesday.

Source: Xinhua
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