China, South Korea and Japan will hold the sixth round of talks for a trilateral free trade agreement (FTA) next week, after Beijing and Seoul concluded the substantive negotiations for a bilateral FTA, the trade ministry said on Sunday.
The sixth round will be held on Nov. 24-28 in Tokyo, according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy. Negotiations for the trilateral FTA were launched in November 2012.
In the past two years, the three sides discussed various areas, including goods, services, investment, competition, intellectual property rights, e-commerce and environment, under the principle of achieving a comprehensive and high-level FTA, the ministry said.
During the upcoming round, delegates from the three countries will focus mainly on discussing modality, or basic guideline, goods liberalization and how to liberalize services and investment. Differences have lasted over the issues among the three nations, the ministry said.
The next round of talks comes after Chinese President Xi Jinping and his South Korean counterpart Park Geun-hye confirmed in Beijing the conclusion of substantive negotiations on the China- South Korea FTA on Nov. 10.
All negotiations for the bilateral FTA will be wrapped up by the end of 2014, and the agreement is expected to be signed 2015 and take effect in the second half of next year.
The South Korean trade ministry said it will seek to maintain consistency in talks for the trilateral trade deal with the China- South Korea FTA, which was effectively agreed. It noted that it will also actively participate in the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).
South Korea has sought to join the negotiations for the RCEP, a multilateral FTA that will include China, South Korea, Japan and 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) as well as India, Australia and New Zealand.