(Yicai Global) July 7 -- China, Japan and South Korea have reached consensus on the scope of their free trade agreement, and will next discuss market entry requirements in areas such as finance, telecommunications and personnel flows, Chinese Ministry of Commerce spokesman Shen Danyang said.
As regional economic cooperation in Europe falters in the wake of the UK's Brexit vote, three East Asian countries are seeking further integration in trade. Once established, the China-Japan-South Korea Free Trade Zone, will cover 1.5 billion people, some three times the population of the European Union and four times that of the North American Free Trade Area.
Together China, Japan and South Korea have a combined gross domestic product that accounts for 22.5 percent of the world's total, according to 2015 data from the International Monetary Fund.
China is the largest trading partner of South Korea and Japan. Japan is China's second largest trading partner and largest investor, and South Korea is China's third largest trading partner and investor. Trade between China, Japan and South Korea grew at an average annual rate of 12 percent between the years 1999 and 2015.
In 2014, China's investment in Japan and South Korea only accounted for 2.6 percent of its total outward investment, so there remains considerable room for growth.
Negotiations over the China-Japan-South Korea Free Trade Zone began in November 2012, but progress has been slow. The latest discussions were the 10th round of negotiations between representatives from the three countries and took place last month in Seoul.