Seoul, Beijing, Tokyo Agree to Start Free-Trade Talks

      May 14, 2012 09:10

      President Lee Myung-bak, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda met in Beijing on Sunday and agreed to begin trilateral free trade talks this year. They also signed an investment guarantee treaty.

      The trilateral FTA would create a giant economic union accounting for one-fifth of global GDP and one-sixth of international trade.

      President Lee Myung-bak (left), Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao (center), and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda hold hands after a summit in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Sunday. /Xinhua-Newsis

      But many hurdles lie ahead. South Korea and Japan are worried about damage to their agricultural industries by a surge in cheap Chinese imports, and China is reluctant to open its service sector.

      At the summit, the fifth of its kind, the three leaders also agreed that they will not tolerate another nuclear test or other provocation by North Korea, Cheong Wa Dae said.

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