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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
Photo: KOREA.NET - Official page of the Republic of Korea / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Korea-China FTA: Latest round of talks includes liberalization of some farm products, noted controversies
The Korean government revealed its intention to open the agricultural sector during the first round of the so-called “second phase negotiations” for a free trade agreement between South Korea and China, showing its will to accelerate the FTA negotiation.
Seoul, Beijing agree on basic guidelines for FTA negotiations
South Korea and China have reached an agreement on the modality or basic guidelines for their negotiations on a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA), the Seoul government said Friday.
S. Korea says latest FTA talks with Japan, China constructive
The latest round of talks with Japan and China for a three-way free trade agreement (FTA) ended Friday after what South Korea called "constructive discussions."
China, ROK, Japan launch 2nd FTA talks
China, the Republic of Korea and Japan started their second round of trilateral talks on a free trade agreement on Tuesday.
Minister urges leading role in FTA talks with China, Japan
South Korea’s finance minister on Thursday called on the government to show leadership in negotiations with Japan and China for a three-way free trade agreement, noting the outcome of the negotiations may well determine the country’s status in Northeast Asia.
Large protest rallies held in Busan over Korean FTA talks with China
There was a lot of tension in connection with the Korea-China FTA negotiations being held for three days in Busan this week. Rallies of opposition groups including farmers coincided with a visit from the Chinese trade delegation.
S. Korean farmers hold massive rally against FTA with China
Thousands of South Korean farmers and fishermen rallied Tuesday to oppose a potential free trade deal with China as the two countries kicked off a new round of negotiations to tear down trade barriers between two of Asia’s biggest economies.
Korea: Farmers seek edge to prosper from China FTA
With Korean and Chinese policymakers due to wrap up the sixth round of negotiations on a free trade agreement between the two countries in Busan on Thursday, thousands of agriculture workers from across the country have been marching through the city in protest.
China, ROK agree to push for completion of free trade pact
China and Korea, during talks held Thursday between Presidents Xi Jinping and Park Geun-hye, agreed to push for the completion of a bilateral free trade agreement.
Sixth round of Korea-China FTA negotiations to be held July 2-4
South Korea and China will hold a fresh round of negotiations for a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) early next month, the Seoul government said Tuesday.