The three-way talks between Korea, Japan, and China for a free trade agreement (FTA) came to an end on May 13 with some progress, but without any expected significant breakthrough.
The chief negotiators from the three countries held a round of negotiations in Seoul that began on the previous day in an effort to narrow down their different positions on the proposed trade deals.
"We have made progress on some issues, but the talks moved slowly," said Korean Chief Negotiator Kim Hak-do, hinting the three countries have been unable to move the negotiations forward. It was known that the three countries just reconfirmed their different positions on the level of market opening in particular.
The efforts to move the negotiations ahead was made by holding separate working-level talks to detail the trade issues while leaving sensitive and political decisions to chief negotiators.
The next round of talks will be held in China in July.
The three countries had also negotiations for a separate regional FTA, known as the China-led Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which currently involves 13 other countries including all 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
Meanwhile, Seoul and Beijing have concluded separate negotiations for a bilateral FTA, which is expected to be officially signed in the near future. Seoul and Tokyo have also held four rounds of talks for a bilateral FTA, but the talks have been suspended since the latest round in November 2004.