logo logo


The governments of China, South Korea and Japan are expected to commence negotiations on an eventual trilateral free trade agreement between the three countries during 2012 by first concluding bilateral agreements.

In December 2011, the three countries held a final joint study meeting on the feasibility of an FTA among them.

In January 2012, the South Korean and Chinese presidents announced that they would move towards negotiating a bilateral agreement between the two countries. In March 2012, the three countries concluded an investment agreement among themselves which is viewed as a step towards a more comprehensive FTA. In May 2012, China and Korea held their first round of negotiations towards an FTA in Beijing.

Negotiations on a Japan-Korea bilateral FTA, which stalled in 2004, despite several attempts to revive them, have to contend with unresolved tensions stemming from the Japanese occupation of Korea in the first half of the 20th century and Japanese resistance to lowering tariffs on agricultural imports. Any eventual FTA between China, South Korea and Japan needs to be seen in the context of ongoing economic and political rivalry between China and the USA, as Washington pursues plans to create a new regional free trade and investment agreement by joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

last update: May 2012

North Asia free-trade area agreement enormously beneficial but years away
A free-trade area among China, Japan and South Korea would bring enormous benefits to the regional economy, but it will take many years before such an agreement can be signed, officials and experts said on Wednesday.
Korea, China, Japan to hold 6th study meeting on FTA
South Korea, China and Japan will hold their sixth joint study meeting next week on the feasibility of a free trade agreement (FTA) among the three Northeast Asian countries, trade ministry said on Wednesday.
Push FTA of South Korea, Japan, China toward TPP
Ten years since the concept of a free-trade agreement (FTA) among Japan, China and South Korea was proposed, some visibly significant moves have gotten under way recently. The three countries, at their leaders’ summit talks held in Japan on May 21 and 22, reached agreement to conclude the industry-government-academia joint studies on the FTA issue this year and begin intergovernmental negotiations next year.
Trade groups urge FTA among S. Korea, China, Japan
Major trade organizations of South Korea, China and Japan urged their governments Friday to quickly sign a three-way free trade agreement (FTA) to strengthen their economic cooperation.
Japan, China, South Korea Eye Trade Pact
The leaders of Japan, China and South Korea pledged Sunday to speed up laying the ground work for a possible three-way free trade pact, in a step to revitalize discussions in light of the economic damage from the massive earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan on March 11.
S. Korea, China expected to launch FTA talks in June
South Korea and China are expected to launch free trade negotiations as early as June, an official said Thursday, setting in motion a process to tear down trade barriers between two of Asia’s biggest economies.
S. Korea, China, Japan agree on earlier conclusion of joint study on FTA
Top trade officials from South Korea, China and Japan agreed Sunday to conclude a joint study on the feasibility of a trilateral free trade agreement (FTA) at an earlier date, South Korean officials said.
Korea needs 3-way free trade deal with Japan, China: official
South Korea needs to sign a three-way free trade deal with Japan and China in a bid to boost prosperity in the Asian region and better prepare for external shocks, a senior finance ministry official said Thursday.
China, Japan, S. Korea to sign investment accord
China, Japan and South Korea will sign a treaty in May to boost cross-border investment and better protect intellectual property, according to a report.
Regional free trade talks ’set for 2012’
Free trade agreement (FTA) talks among China, Japan and the Republic of Korea could start in 2012 as the countries try to reduce reliance on the United States and the European Union, Yi Xiaozhun, vice-minister of commerce, told China Daily.