Sixteen Asia-Pacific countries began their third round of free trade talks in Kuala Lumpur on January 21, with tariff-related issues high on the agenda.

Negotiators from the 10 ASEAN member states and their six regional partners, including Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand and the Republic of Korea, will hold group meetings on trade in goods and services, and investment during their four-day gathering.

The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) framework negotiations are aimed at creating one of the world's largest free trade areas, encompassing almost 30 percent of global gross domestic product, half of the world's population and over a quarter of world exports.

The RCEP negotiation partners aim to wrap up talks by 2015. They held their first round in May last year in Brunei and the second in Brisbane, Australia, last September.-VNA