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Asian nations begin trade talks

South Korean farmers protested outside of talks on an Asian trade deal.

Lee Jin-man/Associated Press

South Korean farmers protested outside of talks on an Asian trade deal.

SEOUL — South Korea, China, and Japan launched the first round of negotiations Tuesday for a free-trade bloc that would be the world’s third-largest, after North America and the European Union.

South Korea said officials will discuss mostly administrative issues during the three days of talks in Seoul, which end Thursday. The meeting will determine the areas, from agriculture to intellectual property rights, that will be included in future negotiations.

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The official launch of the negotiations between the Asian rivals comes as efforts to lower tariffs and other trade barriers in the world’s major economies gain momentum.

On Monday, Japan agreed to start negotiations for a free- trade pact with the European Union, and earlier this month it said it will join talks on the US-led Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Separate trade talks are also underway between China and South Korea. Negotiations for a Japan-South Korea free-trade pact have yet to resume since being halted in 2004.

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