A survey by academic institutions in China, Japan and the Republic of Korea (ROK) showed that most enterprises in the region support the establishment of a free trade area (FTA) between the three countries.
The survey was conducted by the Chinese Development Research Center of the State Council (DRC), the National Institute for Research Advancement (NIRA) of Japan and the Korea Institute for International Economic Policy (KIEP) in the April-October period this year.
DRC Director General of the Foreign Economic Relations Department Zhang Xiaoji said Tuesday at a China-Japan-Korea business forum that the survey showed 70-80 percent of enterprises were in favor of the FTA and hoped talks could begin within three years.
Hirai Katsuhiko, a senior official of the Japan Business Federation, said the FTA will forge an economy equal to the North America Free Trade Area (NAFTA) and the European Union (EU).
The tariff will be reduced to under 5 percent between the three countries and that will facilitate trilateral trade, Hirai said.
Chairman Lee Chong Hoon of the New Asia Economy and Technology Federation said Asia needed a trade system like the NAFTA and EU. He urged the three countries to enhance cooperation to speed up progress.
Leaders of China, Japan and ROK initiated feasibility research on the FTA in 2002. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said China supported further research during the fifth China-Japan-ROK leaders' meeting held last October in Bali, Indonesia.
(Xinhua News Agency November 19, 2003)