BEIJING - China, Japan and South Korea will set in motion formal talks for a three-way free trade pact and unveil an accompanying investment treaty at a summit in Beijing on Sunday.
The three nations are major traders, and together accounted for 19.6 percent of the world's economy and 18.5 percent of its exports in 2010, according to a feasibility study of the proposed trade pact that the governments issued late last year.
"We agreed to propose that our three countries start negotiations before the end of the year. We strongly expect that the three leaders will agree to this," Japanese Trade Minister Yukio Edano told reporters on Saturday night after talks in Beijing with his Chinese and South Korean counterparts.
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao will host Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and South Korean Lee Myung-bak for the summit.
"We are pursuing high-level economic cooperation as part of our national strategy," Noda told the Wall Street Journal in an interview. "The Japan-China-Korea FTA is an extremely important piece of it."