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Japanese, S. Korean business officials call for FTA.

SEOUL, Nov. 26 Kyodo

Business leaders from Japan and South Korea agreed at a meeting in Seoul on Monday on the need to urge their governments to conclude a bilateral free-trade agreement (FTA).

The business executives, led by Takashi Imai, chairman of the Federation of Economic Organizations (Keidanren), and Kim Kak Choong, chairman of the Federation of Korean Industries, agreed that an FTA is vital as a starting point for a proposed forum for economic cooperation in East Asia.

Keidanren officials said a comprehensive FTA between the two countries would lead to economic reform in Japan which would help boost the competitiveness of its industries.

South Korean business officials noted that economic cooperation through a free-trade area is in line with international trends. They noted at the same time, however, that there are problems to be overcome such as the closed nature of Japan's retail market and the lack of competitiveness among South Korean businesses.

The 10-member Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), Japan, China, and South Korea have been considering the creation of an East Asia free-trade area since last year.

ASEAN comprises Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

In October, Japan and Singapore agreed to sign a bilateral FTA by the end of the year.

Between Japan and South Korea, however, studies on an FTA have only just begun at the private-sector level.
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Publication:Japan Weekly Monitor
Date:Dec 3, 2001
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