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Japan 'eager' to join trilateral FTA with China, South Korea

Japan is becoming increasingly “eager” to join a free trade agreement (FTA) with China and South Korea while it is unable to join a broader Asian trade pact, and as Beijing and Seoul began negotiations on an agreement, said the ministry of commerce.

“Late last year, Japan was not very active regarding the trilateral FTA,” said a high-level official from the ministry's Department of International Trade and Economic Affairs at a conference on the trilateral FTA feasibility study in Qingdao, Shandong province.

But after China and South Korea agreed to promote bilateral trade through a trade pact and Japan was still not allowed to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade initiative promoted by the United States, Tokyo became much more positive about a trilateral FTA this year, said the official, who declined to be named.

In mid-April, the leaders of China, Japan and South Korea agreed to start negotiations this year on an FTA.

The three nations are major economies in the Asia-Pacific region, and they together accounted for 19.6 percent of the global gross domestic product and 18.5 percent of exports in 2010, according to a feasibility study on the trade pact issued by the three governments last year.

Following academic research conducted from 2003 to 2009, which showed that a trilateral trade pact could create commercial benefits for all of the countries involved, leaders from the three nations in 2009 proposed conducting a joint study among their governments, industries and academics.

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