• Kyodo

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The first round of negotiations to create a giant free-trade area covering 16 countries in the Asia-Pacific region, including Japan and China, will begin in May, official sources said during an ASEAN economic ministers’ meeting in Hanoi.

The first official gathering of chief negotiators for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership is likely to be held in Brunei in early May, and 2015 will be set as the target date for concluding the trade initiative, officials of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations said Friday.

The discussions will take place at around the same time that senior economic officials of the 10 ASEAN member states are expected to hold a meeting with their counterparts from the bloc’s dialogue partner nations, which include Japan, China and South Korea.

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