Japan to push for FTP with China, South Korea

Tokyo, Nov 13 (IANS) Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has announced his plans to push for a trilateral free trade agreement with China and South Korea, the media reported on Friday.

This initiative would encourage economic growth in the three countries and benefit the entire Asian and global economy, Abe was quoted as saying during a meeting with Japanese and Chinese businessmen in Tokyo on Thursday, EFE news reported.

He said China and Japan, as the world’s second and third biggest economies respectively, must take the initiative to seal the deal, while also highlighting the recent improvement in bilateral relations between Tokyo and Beijing.

The Japanese leader also expressed his interest to take forward the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) a proposed free trade agreement between the 10 member states of the Association of Southeast Asian (ASEAN) countries — Myanmar, Brunei, Cambodia, Philippines, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam — plus another six with whom it has bilateral agreements — Japan, China, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand.

Negotiations for RCEP began in 2012 and the 16 countries involved hope to close it in 2016, for which Abe said: “Japan and China must take the initiative.”

The participating economies have a total gross domestic product of $17 trillion, a population of over 3 billion people, and account for around 40 percent of global trade.

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