China, Japan and South Korea have agreed to soon start talks on a free trade pact.
The announcement was made by leaders of the three countries meeting today in Beijing.
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao called on the three countries to cooperate more to face the economic challenges currently facing the world economy.
Wen said the international financial crisis is not over "and the prospect of the European debt crisis is uncertain."
The three nations are major traders, and together accounted for 19.6 percent of the world's economy and 18.5 percent of its exports in 2010.
But the three neighbors are also divided by political distrust, trade barriers and diverging investment policies.
Based on AP and Reuters reporting