The fifteenth round table took place in Tokyo from 9 to 12 April 2019.  “This round of negotiations is the first after the three parties reached consensus on comprehensive acceleration negotiations. The three sides held a meeting of the chief negotiators, a consultation of the Directors-General and 13 sub-conferences on specific topics, reached a positive consensus on methods and ways to negotiate the relevant issues and clarified the working modalities for the next step. The three sides unanimously agreed to further increase the level of trade and investment liberalization, based on the consensus established in the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (CEP) agreement in which the three sides participated, and to incorporate high standards in order to create an RCEP Plus Free Trade Agreement. “- fta.mofcom.gov.cn It has been speculated that negotiations will accelerate on the basis of the US government`s current `trade war` with China. Three years after negotiations began, China and South Korea have officially signed a free trade agreement. Chinese Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng and South Korean Commerce Minister Yoon Sang-jick signed the document in Seoul on Monday, with President Xi Jinping and Park Geun-hye sending letters expressing support and commitment to the deal. The agreement is even more important if it is seen as a stepping stone. China also wants to conclude a trilateral free trade agreement that binds itself, South Korea and Japan; The free trade agreement between China and South Korea is a useful element in this regard.
More ambitious, Beijing hopes to conclude negotiations on the Regional Economic Partnership (RCEP) this year, a trade deal that binds the 10 ASEAN member countries to China, South Korea, Japan, India, Australia and New Zealand. RCEP is often read in direct opposition to the U.S. insistence on trans-Pacific partnership. Negotiations for a bilateral free trade agreement between Japan and Korea, which ended in 2004 despite several attempts at recovery, are facing unresolved tensions resulting from the Japanese occupation of Korea in the first half of the 20th century and Japanese opposition to the reduction of tariffs on agricultural imports. A possible free trade agreement between China, South Korea and Japan must be seen in the context of the ongoing economic and political rivalry between China and the United States, given that Washington intends to create a new regional free trade and investment agreement through membership of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The governments of China, South Korea and Japan are expected to begin negotiations for a possible trilateral free trade agreement between the three countries in the course of 2012, first concluding bilateral agreements. . . .