South Korean President Park Geun-hye and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe agreed Monday to make efforts to speed up negotiations and reach rapid agreements on the China-South Korea-Japan free trade agreement (FTA) and the regional comprehensive economic partnership (RCEP), Park's office said.[Special coverage]
Park and Abe held the first-ever summit meeting on the sidelines of the trilateral leadership meeting with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in Seoul on Sunday for the first time in three and a half years.
During the bilateral meeting, Park and Abe agreed to play leading roles in the RCEP negotiations to speed up the regional integration dialogue and rapidly reach an agreement on it.
The RCEP is a multilateral free trade pact involving China, South Korea, Japan and 10 ASEAN member countries as well as India, Australia and New Zealand.
Negotiations for the RCEP, launched in November 2012, have been held 10 times until now with the latest round being held in mid-October in South Korea's southern port city of Busan.
Park and Abe also agreed to cooperate for the trilateral FTA between Beijing, Seoul and Tokyo to the direction of rapidly restarting negotiations helping boost an actual approach to each other's markets.
Eight rounds of negotiations have been held for the trilateral free trade pact since it was launched in November 2012.
The South Korean president offered to the Japanese leader keeping their bilateral trade cooperation relationship for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), upon which 12 members, including the United States and Japan, reached an agreement after more than five years of negotiations.
In response, Abe expressed his interest in South Korea's review on whether to join the TPP, saying that the TPP is expected to expand into the Asian region, including South Korea.