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China aims to establish FTA with Japan and South Korea

By Li Jiabao and Ding Qingfen (China Daily)

08:56, December 16, 2011

China is actively pushing for a proposed free trade agreement (FTA) with Japan and South Korea and hopes the negotiations will start next year, officials said on Thursday.

"China, Japan and South Korea are all important countries in East Asia but with different international divisions of labor. A free trade zone among the three countries, if established as soon as possible, would benefit the economic development of all through developing trade and investment potential in East Asia," said Shen Danyang, the spokesman for China's Ministry of Commerce, at a regular briefing in Beijing on Thursday.

Shen added that a free trade zone would also help economic integration among the three countries.

"China is actively pushing forward an investment accord with Japan and South Korea. As for the progress on the FTA, representatives of the three countries are currently in South Korea conducting the last round of talks on the feasibility of the free trade zone. The talks have made positive progress," he said.

Wang Zaibang, vice-president of the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations, said that he is "very optimistic" about the future of the proposed FTA.

"The economies of the three countries are closely related and the establishment of a free trade zone, including the reduction of tariffs, will benefit all three economies in the future. That is why all three countries are positive about the prospects for the zone," Wang said.

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