China eyes faster trade talks as trans-Pacific pact advances

BEIJING Tue Mar 19, 2013 1:00am EDT

A crane loads containers at a port in Lianyungang, Jiangsu province January 10, 2013. REUTERS/China Daily

A crane loads containers at a port in Lianyungang, Jiangsu province January 10, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/China Daily

BEIJING (Reuters) - China will hold three rounds of trade negotiations with Japan and South Korea this year and step up talks with other trading partners, the Ministry of Commerce said on Tuesday, as U.S. efforts to seal a trans-Pacific free trade deal gather pace.

China said the first set of talks on a three-way free trade agreement (FTA) with its two neighbors would be staged in Seoul, the South Korean capital, from March 26-28. They will then move to China, with a third leg to be held in Japan, ministry spokesman Shen Danyang told a news conference.

The talks are seen by analysts as a two-pronged initiative by Beijing to engage with Japan after recent diplomatic tension over disputed island territory in the East China Sea, while also countering the "pivot" by the United States to reaffirm its role in Asia in the face of China's economic rise.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said last week that Tokyo would seek to join the U.S.-led Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) talks that currently bring together the United States, Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, Chile, Peru, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Singapore.

Bringing the world's third-largest economy into the negotiations would set the stage for a final agreement covering nearly 40 percent of world's economic output, but could also isolate China in the process.

"We will improve communications and talks with the related parties and push forward the progress of our own free trade areas," Shen told reporters when asked to respond to Japan's plan to join TPP negotiations.

"We always think that every economy in the world has the right to participate in the process of world economic integration and we always take an open and inclusive attitude for all efforts to push for regional and world cooperation," Shen said.

"We also think that any regional or bilateral free trade agreement should be only a complement to the multi-lateral trade system, not a replacement for it," he said.

Shen gave no dates for any of the later talks he said were planned as part of the three-way China-Japan-South Korea pact.

The three nations last held ministerial-level talks on a free trade deal four months ago during the East Asia Summit held in Cambodia.

(Reporting by Nick Edwards; Editing by Paul Tait)

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see
Comments (2)
MikeBarnett wrote:
China already has a free trade agreement with ASEAN, and its prior talks with South Korea and Japan in 2011 created the Trilateral Cooperation Office in Seoul to promote joint economic development projects for the three countries. It occurred after disasters caused damages in Japan (earthquake and tsunami) and South Korea (typhoons). China conducts enormous trade with both countries and many electronic gadgets have components from all three countries regardless of the official company’s name and nationality on the finished product.

The US free trade proposal faces enormous hurdles because it took 19 years for the ratification of free trade between the US and South Korea. At that rate, the US will not ratify the Trans-Pacific Pact until the year 2220. The current competition with China may be over by that time.

Mar 19, 2013 3:24pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Pterosaur wrote:
The BRICS+OPEC should push forward a commodities based currency.

It’s not a bad idea for the China+Japan+Korea Trade pact, but Japan agriculture sector is completely closed.

Mar 19, 2013 7:36pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.