Entrepreneurs from South Korea and Japan expressed support for the multilateral free trade pacts, including the trilateral free trade agreement (FTA) between China, South Korea and Japan, during the regular annual meeting held for two days through Thursday in Seoul.
More than 300 businessmen from the two countries held the 47th round of Korea-Japan entrepreneur conference, and issued a joint statement that support the multilateral FTAs. The meeting has been held every year since 1969.
The businessmen vowed to actively support the trilateral FTA between Beijing, Seoul and Tokyo and South Korea's participation in the U.S.-led Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) to help integrate the economies in Asia.
The TPP is a comprehensive but controversial free trade deal as it involves rules on not only trade and economy, but also other sensitive issues such as labor, environment and state-owned enterprises.
The participants include Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam.
Unlike the entrepreneurs, South Korean President Park Geun-hye stressed the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) during her meeting with Japanese businessmen Wednesday at the presidential Blue House.
Park said that South Korea and Japan would cooperate in the process of negotiating about the trilateral FTA and the RCEP. The president noted that multilateral FTAs are desirable as those can provide a variety of opportunities for entrepreneurs to do business together.
The RCEP is a multilateral FTA that will include China, South Korea and Japan and 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) as well as India, Australia and New Zealand.
President Park made no mention of historical disputes with Japan during the meeting with Japanese businessmen. Some South Korean media interpreted it as Park's intention to separate the historical disputes from economic and security cooperation with Japan.