Asian mega-trade bloc discussed

Kuala Lumpur, August 24 :

Southeast Asian trade ministers met today with counterparts from China, India, Japan and South Korea to discuss a free-trade zone, and thrash out a web of free-trade deals. ASEAN members this week agreed to study Japan’s proposal for a 16-nation trade bloc which will embrace half the world’s population.

However, ASEAN’s secretary-general Ong Keng Yong said regional nations were cautious about the idea to integrate the economies of the 16 members of the newly created East Asia Summit.

ASEAN ministers have also said they want to finish FTAs they are forging with their dialogue partners, including Japan.