China, Japan and South Korea are inching ahead with talks for a free trade zone that would rival the European Union and North America in economic heft.
Progress will be slow despite the achievement of setting aside their often acrimonious relations to begin negotiations. An agreement to start talks took 10 years.
After three days of meetings in Seoul that finished Thursday, South Korea said officials agreed to hold two more rounds of negotiations this year, with the second meeting to be held in China either in June or July.
Negotiations will cover goods, services and investment and might be extended to intellectual property rights and electronic commerce.