Left outside the U.S.-backed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade pact struck last week, China and India approach this week's talks for a huge Asia-wide equivalent with fresh urgency, lest competitor nations steal a march on export access.
Beijing is a key driver of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), a proposed 16-nation free-trade area that would be the world's biggest such bloc, encompassing 3.4 billion people.
"Member countries will be under pressure to fast-track negotiations for RCEP," said a senior official in India, which is keen to avoid being excluded from major trade accords.
While China's rivalries with India and Japan will complicate progress, it has incentive to get things moving.
China's central bank estimates the world's second-largest economy could forfeit a 2.2 percent boost to gross domestic product if Beijing does not join the TPP, according to a commentary by the bank's chief economist, Ma Jun, published in the official Shanghai Securities News on Friday.