Trade officials of China, Japan, and the Republic of Korea continued negotiations on a 3-way Free Trade Agreement in Qing Dao on August 20. Recent diplomatic tensions over disputed territory will not affect the agreement and the great economic benefits it will bring each nation.
According to the Korean Broadcasting System, this meeting will clarify fundamental regulations, scopes, procedures, and commitments reached in the first round of negotiations in Japan in June.
This is not the first time the three countries have tried to negotiate a trade pact. Since Beijing first proposed establishing a free trade area in late 2002, China, Japan, and the RoK have been determined to pursue an idea that has boosted trade growth in other nations.
Over the past decade, China has become the largest trading partner of Japan and the RoK, while Japan ranks fourth and the RoK sixth among China’s trading partners. Last year, two-way trade turnover between China and Japan exceeded US$340 billion, up 22 percent, while trade turnover between China and the RoK was US$250 billion and is expected to be US$300 billion by 2015.
In the past, China wasn’t keen on the deal but has changed its view since Seoul and Washington set up an FTA, and Japan joined the Trans-Pacific Partnership. When the trade pact is signed, China hopes to bolster its economic leadership in Northeast Asia.
For Japan, the FTA will, on one hand, help it expand its market share in China, and on the other hand, restrain China. The RoK doesn’t want its commodities to take a back seat to China and Japan.
The FTA is of obvious potential benefit but the negotiation process has been bogged down for more than 10 years in political squabbling. Yet the three nations have become more positive as Europe’s public debt crisis has got worse, the US economy has slowed, and Asia - Pacific has begun to emerge as the world’s most dynamic economic region.
To prepare for the Qingdao meeting, trade officers of these countries convened negotiations in Tokyo in June. At the fifth Tripartite Summit in Beijing in mid-May, the three countries issued a joint statement on strengthening their comprehensive cooperation and agreed to create a competitive environment for trade and investment.
Ahead of the Qingdao meeting, Osamu Fujimura, Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary, said the disputed island of Diaoyu, which Japan calls Sensaku, shouldn’t be allowed to influence other bilateral relations. Fujimura said its relationship with China is one of the most important for Japan and an essential factor in the stability and prosperity of Asia – Pacific./.