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Promoting China-Japan-S. Korea FTA negotiations is "natural": official

By Zhao Bochao, Deng Yushan, Ding Yimin (Xinhua)

08:37, November 30, 2012

SEOUL, Nov. 29 (Xinhua) -- The establishment of a free trade area amongst China, Japan and South Korea is a "natural" outcome of the development of the three countries' economic and trade relations.

That's according to Bark Tae Ho, the Republic of Korea's trade minister.

Bark, along with Chinese Commerce Minister Chen Deming, and Edano Yukio, minister of Economy, Trade and Industry of Japan, met in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on Nov. 20 on the occasion of a series of meetings of East Asian leaders. There, they announced the launch of the free-trade agreement (FTA) negotiations among China, Japan and Korea.

The first round of talks will be held in January.

"The consultation among South Korea, China and Japan has started for a long time. As a result, it is very natural to formally launch the negotiations right now," Bark, who just returned to Seoul, told Xinhua in a recent interview.

"Moreover, it is already a little late to start the negotiations now. They should have been launched before," he added.

As major world economies, China, Japan and South Korea are not only near each other in geography, they are also important partners in trade and investment.

The total gross domestic product (GDP) of the three countries in 2011 amounted to 14 trillion U.S. dollars, which accounted for 20 percent of the world's GDP. What's more, they also have close cooperation in the division of labor in the global industrial chain.

"If the systems and rules of South Korea, China and Japan can be systematically integrated, the three countries' enterprises will acquire great convenience," Bark said.

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