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

Closing free talks with deal to be harder than opening negotiations for SKorea, China, Japan
Progress toward a free trade zone that would be the world’s third largest could easily be interrupted by any flare-up in political tensions.
S.Korea’s auto body concerned about trade deal with China, Japan
South Korea’s auto industry expressed fears of an influx of car imports as Seoul kicked off trilateral talks on Tuesday with Japan and China to allow free trade between over 1.5 billion consumers in the three Asian nations.
China, Japan, ROK start FTA talks in Seoul
China, Japan and the Republic of Korea (ROK) on Tuesday started the first round of trilateral talks on the free trade agreement (FTA) in the ROK’s capital, which will continue until Thursday.
Asian business leaders push trilateral free trade
Over 200 business leaders from China, Japan and South Korea gathered in Seoul to further promote and commemorate the launch of the trilateral free trade negotiations.
Korea-China free trade deal
On Thursday, a group of farmers, fishermen and livestock raisers staged performances in front of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade building in central Seoul, condemning the official start of free trade negotiations between Korea and China.
S. Korea to prioritize FTA with China
South Korea will prioritize the conclusion of a free trade agreement (FTA) with China over a possible trilateral free trade deal that further encompasses Japan, Seoul’s top envoy to Beijing has said.
Politics threatens East Asia FTA
Ministers of commerce from China, Japan and the Republic of Korea are meeting in the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh to initiate talks on a free trade area between the three countries, despite the deadlock in bilateral relations between China and Japan because of Japan’s purchase of China’s Diaoyu Islands.
Korean firms urge early conclusion of FTA with China
South Korean firms operating in China have called on Beijing to conclude a free trade deal with South Korea as soon as possible to help create an integrated economy in the region, officials said Friday.
South Korea, China and Japan to start three-way FTA negotiations
South Korea, China and Japan are set to officially declare the launch of negotiations for a “the three-country free trade agreement” on Nov. 20. Choi Kyung-lim, the chief South Korean negotiator said on Nov. 18, “The final confirmation will be made after tomorrow’s report to the Foreign Affairs, Trade and Unification Committee of the National Assembly, but our plan for now is to officially declare the launch of negotiations on Nov. 20.”
China ’optimistic’ on FTA talks with Japan, S. Korea
China, Japan, and South Korea are expected to agree on the launch of three-way free trade talks at a summit in the Cambodian capital this week, Beijing’s foreign ministry spokesman said Sunday.