North Korean Economy Does Not Have a Basis for Development

Daily NK
Yang Jung A
11/7/2007

Although the North Korean economy has been growing since late 1990s, it is hard to say that the economy has growth on its own.

A senior researcher at the Korea Institute for National Unification, Choi Su Young, released a paper titled “the Latest Tendency of the North Korean Economy” in the October “Finance,” which is issued by Korea Federation of Banks. He pointed out in the paper that “North Korea’s economic reliance on China is getting serious and cited the state’s 1.7 billion dollars in trade with China.”

He explained “On one hand, North Korea exports to China in 2006 increased to 72.7% compared with exports in 2002; on the other hand, imports from China increased to 163.8%. This resulted in a recorded deficit of 760 million dollars. The rate of North Korean trade reliance on China was 48.5% in 2004, and it reached 60% last year.”

He relayed that “In the production industry, North Korea has to rely systematically on China’s raw materials, energy, facilities and parts. North Korea is importing its entire amount of petroleum for transportation and production. Chinese influence on the North Korean economy is so absolute that 70-80% of consumer products are made in China.

Mr. Choi insists that “Although foreign aid and South-North economic cooperation were expanding and its reliance on the influx of foreign currency was great, North Korea was staying in low-growth status, which means North Korea does not have the economic foundation for development.

According to the report, the scale of exchange between the South and the North was rapidly increasing through the annual provision of South Korean rice and free fertilizer supporting and South Korean enterprises’ activities at the Kaesung Industrial Complex.

With the exception of South Korea and China, there are no countries willing to invest in North Korea. Most developed countries turn away from North Korea because the standard and environment related to North Korean investment are significantly inferior to the norm.

He explained that “The North Korean investment environment is inconvenient for foreign investors due to obsolete infra-structures, high distribution costs and limited markets. It is unnecessary to mention the international policies related to North Korea.”

Mr. Choi added that “The scale of North Korean foreign trade was 2 billion dollars in 2000 and reached 3 billion dollars in 2006. Exports amounted to 950 million dollars and imports came to a total of 2.05 billion dollars.”

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