• Kyodo

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Representatives of 10 cities in Japan, China and South Korea met Tuesday to launch a regional organization designed to promote economic exchanges.

The Organization for East Asia Economic Development Conference traces its origins to the East Asian (Pan Yellow Sea) City Conference established by the initiative of Kitakyushu in 1991.

The 10 cities are Kitakyushu and Fukuoka, Shimonoseki in Yamaguchi Prefecture, the Chinese cities of Dalian, Qingdao, Tianjin and Yantai, and the South Korean cities of Pusan, Inchon and Ulsan.

The group, which set up subcommittees on manufacturing, the environment, distribution and tourism, plans to forge a regional version of a free-trade agreement and plans to create a model region for the environment, organizers said.

It aims to establish a system for fostering new industries beyond national borders and promote brand strategies for tourism, they said.

To generate similar benefits as an FTA, the group aims to remove trade barriers through such measures as lowering port fees and simplifying customs.