16:59 GMT +324 May 2018
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    Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang and South Korean President Moon Jae-in attend their joint news conference after their trilateral summit talks in Tokyo, May 9, 2018

    Beijing to Become Driving Force for Free Trade Zone With Seoul, Tokyo – Analyst

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    Commenting on Wednesday's meeting between Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang, South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Li Kai of Shanxi Finance University told Sputnik about a proposed free trade zone between the three countries.

    Shanxi Finance University expert Li Kai pointed out that in terms of economic scale, the proposed China-Japan-South Korea free trade zone can be compared to such major economic integration zones as the EU or the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

    "The volume of trade in the China-Japan-South Korea zone is 23 percent of the global trade turnover, while in the EU and NAFTA the figure stands at 21 percent and 27 percent, respectively. As far as foreign exchange reserves are concerned, the share of China, Japan and South Korea is about 48 percent. In other words, the three countries have both money and manpower resources," Kai said.

    READ MORE: Financial Experts: US Will Fail to Undermine China-South America Free Trade Deal

    He stressed that the creation of the China-Japan-South Korea free trade zone would "benefit not only East Asia, but also [would] have an external effect and stimulate negotiations on regional economic integration between the three countries and ASEAN [Association of Southeast Asian Nations]."

    "At the same time, China's role and responsibility in the formation of the trilateral free trade zone is obvious. Beijing may become a clear driving force to create such a zone," Kai added, referring to the scale of the Chinese market.

    "The growth of the Japanese economy is hampered by years of depression – something which is also the case with South Korea. Against this background, the Chinese economy can help Seoul and Tokyo to ride out of the economic slowdown. This will also benefit China because the creation of regional economic integration will accelerate reorientation of Chinese industry to a regional track," Kai underlined.

    The creation of the trilateral free trade zone topped the agenda of talks between Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang, South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo on May 9.

    READ MORE: China, Japan, S Korea Ministers Warn Against Protectionism in Int'l Trade

    Li, for his part, noted that freedom of trade and rejection of protectionism are beneficial to all three countries and the world as a whole.
    He also urged the counterparts not to miss the current opportunity to improve trilateral ties and speed up the process of coming to an agreement to establish a free trade zone. 

    The importance of bolstering economic interaction between the three countries was also underscored by South Korean President Moon Jae-in who stressed that such a collaboration would contribute substantially to improving the living standards of people in Japan, China and South Korea.

    The views and opinions expressed by Li Kai are those of the analyst and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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    foreign exchange, free trade zone, negotiations, integration, economy, cooperation, China, Japan, South Korea
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