China, Japan, South Korea Reach Three-Way Investment Agreement

Category: World / Mar 22, 2012 2:44PM EDT

China, Japan and South Korea have reached a trilateral investment agreement, bringing to over a decade of efforts to bridge Asia's three leading economic powers and advance the ultimate goal of a free-trade zone.

The details of the agreement remain unknown, but will become clear at the official signing expected at a summit in May. It would be the first legal economic agreement among the three nations. The deal is expected to increase government transparency, dispute resolution and intellectual property rights protections in China.

The agreement's signing has been interpreted as a first step towards a free-trade agreement between the nations, though it may take years, a senior Japanese official told the Journal. The South Korean President and Chinese leader Hu Jintao agreed in January to start formal discussions for a free trade agreement by June.