S. Korea, China, Japan to hold 4th round of free trade talks this week

By 정주원
  • Published : Feb 17, 2014 - 15:21
  • Updated : Feb 17, 2014 - 16:45

South Korea, China and Japan will hold a fourth round of negotiations this week aimed at forging a trilateral free trade agreement, a Seoul diplomat said Monday, despite a diplomatic impasse over Tokyo's nationalist moves regarding historical and territorial issues.

The three Northeast Asian nations kicked off formal negotiations earlier last year and have held three rounds of talks since, with Seoul officials describing the third round as being "productive."

"The fourth round of Korea-China-Japan FTA negotiations will be held in Beijing from Tuesday," the diplomat said on the condition of anonymity.

During the three-day talks, South Korea and China will also hold separate negotiations with an aim to reach a bilateral free trade agreement, the diplomat said.

Japan's nationalist moves including a controversial visit by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to the Yasukuni Shrine, which honors 14 Class A war criminals from World War II, have irked both South Korea and China.

Besides the long-standing thorny issues from their shared history, the three-way talks are expected to hit a snag as farmers in South Korea and Japan have opposed the idea of a trilateral free trade pact over concerns about an inflow of cheaper farm products from China.

The ambitious three-way pact, if realized, would create one of the world's largest markets as the three nations account for 20 percent of the global gross domestic product, 17.5 percent of all global trade and 22 percent of the global population. (Yonhap)