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Lower House passes investment accord

Kyodo

The Lower House passed an accord Thursday to facilitate investment between Japan, China and South Korea in a move that will help accelerate talks for a trilateral free trade agreement.

The pact, signed by the three nations in May 2012, was immediately sent to the Upper House, which will likely follow suit and give final approval during the current session scheduled to run until early December.

The accord is aimed at encouraging business investment among the three countries by addressing a number of hurdles, including differing views on protecting intellectual property rights.

It also puts in place procedures for dispute settlement while banning the signatories from strengthening barriers against mutual investment.

South Korea has already ended its domestic procedures for endorsing the pact while China is moving forward on it, according to Japanese officials.

The three nations started negotiations on the accord, which requires updating a set of similar bilateral agreements between the parties, in 2007. Its conclusion is expected to accelerate their pursuit of a broader agreement on trade and investment liberalization.