9th Pyongyang International Trade Fair welcomes ROK delegation

From the Joong Ang Daily:

A group of 60 South Korean businessmen and government officials arrived here yesterday to attend the Pyongyang International Trade Fair and inspect other factories and businesses in North Korea.

During the six-day visit, the delegates will also listen to investment presentations at a seminar conducted by Pyongyang officials.

The visit of the South Korean team was linked informally by its sponsors, the Korea Development Institute and the JoongAng Ilbo, to an agreement in April 2002 between the two governments to exchange economic survey missions. Reporters from the newspaper were also allowed to accompany the delegation, a somewhat unusual gesture by the North Korean authorities.

A team from North Korea did conduct such a tour in the South in October 2002, but that visit has not been officially reciprocated. Although not sponsored by the South Korean government, Seoul officials on the delegation said, it could be considered an economic survey team.

The group from Seoul will be the first to attend the Pyongyang International Trade Fair, the ninth of its kind.

Pyongyang announced a series of cautious economic reforms in July 2002, and although some important ones, such as throwing food distribution open to private sellers, have been reversed, businessmen here have not had an opportunity to see what’s going on in the North Korean economy.

Seoul officials and businessmen here have cited that uncertainty and lack of information as a major reason for holding back investments.  The group includes delegates from 36 businesses and research institutes and 15 government officials from nine ministries.
Conglomerates such as SK, Posco, Kumho Asiana, Hanwha, CJ and TongYang are represented in the group, as are a handful of smaller companies.


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