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PacNet #24 – U.S. Should Bless the Japan-ROK Free Trade Pact

Over the weekend, South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun and Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi Junichiro announced they will strive to start negotiations "at an early date" – presumably later this year – to create the largest bilateral free trade area in East Asia. It will include 170 million affluent people with a combined GDP of $5 trillion, about three-fourths of the entire East Asian economy. As neighbors, U.S. allies, and OECD members with large and highly developed economies, they could set a standard for economic integration in the region. Moreover, this pact would have important political overtones for the two countries, and for their most important ally, the United States. For economic, political, and strategic reasons, the two sides should move promptly forward with the strong support of the United States.