• Kyodo

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The trade chiefs of Japan, China and South Korea will hold a meeting in Tokyo Saturday and are expected to agree to further promote free trade, trade minister Hiroshige Seko said Friday.

“We have seen protectionist moves across the globe. We hope that the three countries will confirm the importance of the free trade system,” Seko said at a news conference.

Chinese Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng and South Korean Trade, Industry and Energy Minister Joo Hyung-hwan are scheduled to join the trilateral gathering, the first since October last year.

The trio are likely to pledge to accelerate negotiations toward a three-way FTA, which began in 2012, Japanese officials said.

The ministers may also share the view that they will play a leading role in the talks on the proposed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership. The so-called RCEP covers 16 countries, including Australia, India and New Zealand as well as China, Japan and South Korea.

On the sidelines of Saturday’s ministerial meeting, Seko plans to hold bilateral talks separately with his Chinese and South Korean counterparts, the officials said.

Tokyo, Beijing and Seoul have agreed to work together toward convening a three-way summit later in the year in Japan.

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