South Korea, Japan, China to Open Trilateral Free Trade Talks in 2011

Asia rising. Take note.

The Republic of Korea’s ambassador to China announced that the two countries, along with, possibly, Japan, will initiate talks to form a free trade block in east Asia.  If completed, the linkage of the second largest economy in the world (China), the third largest (Japan) and the fifteenth largest (Korea) would rival both NAFTA and the EU in terms of size.  The new block would also have much higher rates of growth than the developed western blocs for much of the foreseeable future.

The US currently has a free trade pact that’s pending ratification before the Senate.  It’s been stalled for a few years now, but if approved, it would lower trade barriers between the two nations.  My question is this: would South Korea then become a conduit through which the US would also effectively have free trade with also Japan and China?  It seems as if South Korea would, in many ways, function as a bridge between the the three largest economies in the world.  There’s a lot of work to be done on this, and its success is far from certain, but if completed, this would be the most consequential trade treaty we’re likely to see in our lifetimes.

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