China, Japan and South Korea have agreed to take a united stand against the protectionism advocated by US President Donald Trump.
During a trilateral meeting in Yokohama, Japan, on Friday, finance ministers of the three countries agreed to resist all forms of protectionist policies obstructing free trade.
"We agree that trade is one of the most important engines of economic growth and development, which contribute to productivity improvements and job creations," the finance ministers and central bank governors of the three countries said in a joint communique issued after the trilateral meeting.
The agreement on free trade was issued in response to Trump's calls to put America's interest first and pull out of multilateral trade agreements that he claims are damaging the US economy.
China, Japan and South Korea are opposed to Trump's protectionist policies, and support free trade.
In addition, Japan says trade must not only be free, but also fair.
Furthermore, in an attempt to reduce the region's dependency on the US dollar, Japan has proposed forming a currency swap fund worth $40 billion with Southeast Asian countries to reduce the financial stress linked to dollar fluctuations.
China finance minister's 'no show'
Friday's trilateral meeting, which Chinese Finance Minister Xiao Jie missed, was held on the sidelines of the Asian Development Bank's annual gathering.
An official in the news department of China's Ministry of Finance confirmed that Xiao had missed the meeting, but did not say why he missed the meeting.
China’s deputy finance minister and a senior official from the Chinese central bank filled in for the minister.
China is in the middle of an international dispute between nuclear-powered North Korea, on one side, and the United States and its regional allies Japan and South Korea, on the other.
Pyongyang, China’s main traditional ally, has warned Beijing against the catastrophic consequences of distancing from the North and approaching others.