South Korea, China and Japan agreed Sunday to launch official negotiations this year to forge an ambitious pact tearing down barriers to trade between the three of Asia’s biggest economies.
South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda reached the agreement during annual summit talks in Beijing that also covered North Korea and other issues of cooperation.
The envisioned pact, if realized, would create one of the world’s largest markets as South Korea, China and Japan account for 20 percent of the global gross domestic product (GDP), 17.5 percent of all global trade, and 22 percent of the global population.
Such a deal could also help improve overall relations between the three countries, which have often frayed over their shared history, including Japan’s aggression against the other nations in the early 20th century.
But widespread views are that negotiations would be tough and lengthy.
“I believe the launch of FTA negotiations this year is very meaningful for the future of cooperation between the three countries,” Lee said during a joint news conference after the summit talks.
During a meeting with business leader of the three countries, Lee also said that an FTA between the three neighbors could significantly contribute to the world economy and global free trade efforts.
On the sidelines of the summit, the three countries also signed an investment guarantee treaty that calls for providing most-favored-nation status and other protective measures for investment from each other.
The pact is the first economic treaty between the three countries.
North Korea was high on the agenda for the summit.
Sunday’s talks came a month after Pyongyang’s long-range rocket on April 13. Though the rocket fizzled soon after takeoff, the liftoff drew international condemnation as it broke a U.N. ban adopted over concerns such a launch could be used to develop missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads.
Concerns have since grown that Pyongyang could stage additional provocations, such as a nuclear test, which would be its third, as well as more missile tests and border clashes. Officials in Seoul have said the North appears to have completed preparations for a nuclear test.
They exchanged views on the launch of North Korea’s new leadership, its long-range rocket launch and related developments.
Lee also said he proposed during the summit that the three countries should cooperate closely to study “more effective” and fresh measures to deter North Korean provocations. Lee did not elaborate.
But Chinese Premier Wen spoke in a softer tone during the news conference, calling for all sides to “abandon Cold War-style thinking” so as to resolve tensions and stressing the “most urgent issue for now is to prevent tensions on the Korean Peninsula.”
During the summit talks behind closed doors, however, Wen said that China has been strongly urging Pyongyang to refrain from additional provocations since last month’s rocket launch, according to Kim Tae-hyo, a senior security aide to President Lee.
China is usually reluctant to openly criticize North Korea. Beijing is the North’s last-remaining major ally that provides the isolated nation with crucial economic aid and diplomatic support. Experts say China dreads any instability in North Korea as it could hurt its economic and political interests.
The three countries also signed two other cooperation agreements, one of them on agricultural cooperation and the other on preventing desertification of forests and protecting wildlife.
Later in the day, Lee held one-on-one summits with Wen and Noda.
South Korea, China and Japan have held an annual three-way summit since 1999 on the sidelines of regional summits organized by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Since 2008, the sides have also held another regular summit that rotates among the three countries, and Sunday’s meeting was the fifth.
Yesterday, I wrote a post about North Korean rocket launch.
On top of that news, North Korea is further adding to tensions, readying for a nuclear test.
Economic sanctions are imposed against North Korea for four primary reasons:
(1) North Korea is seen as posing a threat to the security of East Asia
(2) North Korea is a state sponsor or supporter of international terrorism
(3) North Korea is a Marxist-Leninist state, with a Communist government
(4) North Korea has been found by the United State Department to have engaged in proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
Moreover, the United States has also taken steps to isolate the Macau-based Banco Delta Asia for counterfeiting and money-laundering activities, actions North Korea has characterized as attacks against it.
In accordance with U.S. law, the United States limits some trade, denies trade in dual-use goods and services, limits foreign aid, and opposes entry into or support from international financial institutions.
Here’ s one thing I learnt about NK in Game Theory class. Game theory can be applied to study actions (both political or economic) between ‘rational’ countries. However, rationality does not exist in NK, so it is very tough to study NK’s actions. Not only do we have a very imperfect information about NK, making it a very complex Bayesian game, NK is simply very irrational.
So what do we do with irrational parties? Simply do not negotiate with them.
Negotiations with them is impossible. The only answer to irrationality would be economic/physical/political sanctions and threats.
The day of NK rocket launch is nearing. Kim Jong Un claims that the ‘satellite’ will be launched next week, around April 12-14.
Although the international society have been pressuring the NK regime into aborting the launch, I believe the sanctions on NK was insufficient to thwart their efforts.
What we need is stronger sanctions. Although it is very unfortunate that the North Korean people are starving, persuading them to abandon nuclear weapons for food is definitely not the answer to the problem. Although the food may ease the starvation problem for a temporary period, it will extend and justify the dictatorship in NK for a longer time, which will in turn backfire at the NK people for a extended period of cruelty from the totalitarian government.
This month’s long-range rocket launch will cost North Korea some US$850 million, the equivalent of feeding 19 million people for one year, intelligence authorities in Seoul estimated Monday.
According to the estimate, revealed by a military official, construction of the launch site is expected to cost the North $400 million, while the rocket and its payload will cost $300 million and $150 million, respectively.
Source: Yonhap News Agency
Top diplomats from South Korea, China and Japan will hold three-way talks early next month on regional security and cooperation, Seoul’s foreign ministry said Thursday, with North Korea’s rocket plan expected to be a hot topic on the sidelines.
South Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan will hold the two-day tripartite talks with China’s Yang Jiechi and Japan’s Koichiro Gemba in the eastern Chinese city of Ningbo starting April 7, ministry spokesman Cho Byung-jae said.
The three-way meeting, the sixth of its kind, comes as North Korea has defied international condemnation and pressed ahead with its plan to launch a satellite into orbit on the back of a long-range rocket sometime between April 12 and 16.
“It is certain that the issue (of North Korea’s planned rocket launch) will be discussed bilaterally on the sidelines of the trilateral talks,” Cho said.
Earlier on Thursday, Japan’s Tokyo Shimbun reported that Pyongyang has started fueling a rocket for the planned launch, citing a source close to North Korea. Cho said he could not confirm the report, saying it is an intelligence matter.
South Korea, the United States and Japan have condemned the North’s rocket plan as a disguised test of its improved international ballistic missile technology.
The North’s maneuver also puts in jeopardy an aid-for-denuclearization deal Pyongyang signed with Washington in late February.
South Korean and Japanese military officials have said they would shoot down the rocket if it violates their airspace.
Pyongyang’s missile program has long been a regional security concern, along with its nuclear programs. The country is believed to have advanced ballistic missile technology, though it is still not clear whether it has mastered the technology to put a nuclear warhead on a missile.
North Korea has carried out two nuclear tests, first in 2006 and then in 2009.