SEOUL, (APP/Yonhap): Business leaders of South Korea and Japan gathered in Seoul on Tuesday to discuss ways to step up collaboration in the technology and energy sectors, as well as in facilitating multilateral free trade with other Asian nations.
About 300 businessmen from major companies attended the meeting hosted by the Korea-Japan Economic Association in downtown Seoul to share views on the next technological revolution and other industrial issues.
Korea-Japan Economic Association held its first meeting in 1969 as part of business exchanges between the neighbors, with each side taking turns hosting the annual forum.
Kim Yoon, chairman of Samyang Holdings Corporation in South Korea and Mikio Sasaki, a senior adviser at Mitsubishi Corporation in Japan , attended the gathering as representatives from each side. South Korean finance minister Kim Dong-yeon and trade minister Paik Un-gyu met the Japanese business delegation to discuss pressing economic issues between the two nations.
Stressing strong bilateral economic ties, the trade minister called on the business leaders to put concerted efforts toward lowering trade barriers beyond the two nations.
"To expand the bilateral cooperation beyond East Asia, I hope the business circle will put greater efforts into accelerating the ratification of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership and a trilateral free trade agreement between South Korea , Japan and China," Paik said in a congratulatory address.
Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is a proposed free trade pact between China, India, Australia, New Zealand, Japan , South Korea and 10 other member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. China has pushed RCEP in order to expand its influence in the region, while Washington had pitched for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The United States withdrew from the TPP after President Donald Trump took office.
Since signing a bilateral FTA in 2015, South Korea and China have talked about ways to finalize a trilateral pact with Japan . But soured diplomatic ties with Beijing over Seoul's deployment of an American missile defense system has clouded the prospect of such a deal in the near term.
Bilateral trade between South Korea and Japan was tallied at US$ 71.9 billion in 2016, with South Korea importing $47.5 billion from its neighbor, according to the Korea International Trade Association.