South Korea, China, and Japan began a new round of negotiations on a trilateral free trade agreement (FTA) in Seoul on May 12 to narrow down their remaining differences.
The meeting marks the seventh of its kind since the first round of negotiations in March 2013. It is, however, the first meeting instantly followed by separate working-level talks to have in-depth discussions on general concessions by head negotiators. The latest round of working-level talks was held in Seoul from April 13 to 17.
The trilateral FTA will link three of Asia's four largest economies, and become the first of its kind that links the Korean and Japanese economies. Japan is the only advanced nation with which Korea does not have a FTA. Seoul and Tokyo have held four rounds of talks for a bilateral FTA so far, but they have been suspended since November 2004.
Korea’s negotiations with China for a bilateral FTA were concluded late last year to sign the deal before the end of next year.
The three countries said publicly that they will finalize the talks for a trilateral FTA before the end of next year. However, many industry experts here believe it will need more time.