The European Business Association has acted as a de facto chamber of commerce in the DPRK since its founding on April 28, 2005. It was jointly founded by all of the European business representatives who resided in Pyongyang at the time, and according to its press release (posted below in full), it aims to “build bridges” and increase trade between Europe and the DPRK.
Recently, a video of this founding was posted on Youtube. You can see it here:
Click on image for video.
The EBA is now run by Nigel Cowie. Here is their web page.
Here is the press release that was issued at the time:
Press Release by the European Business Association (European Chamber of Commerce), Pyongyang, on the occasion of its founding ceremony on April 28, 2005.
All of the foreign business people who are resident in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) and who represent European enterprises have today jointly founded the European Business Association (EBA). The ten European, one Hong Kong and one Mongolian business managers include the heads of four European invested joint ventures (in banking, overseas shipping, pharmaceuticals production and consumer goods manufacturing) in the DPRK and the representatives of several medium- and large sized European companies.
During a short founding ceremony the EBA-members approved the statute and elected Felix Abt, resident chief representative of a large European manufacturing and trading group, president, Guenter Unterbeck, resident chief representative of the German enterprise that introduced and operates internet in the DPRK and Valentin Dimitrievich Pan, resident chief representative of the Russian railways, vice-presidents.
As a representative of the European embassies to the DPRK the Romanian Charge d’Affaires Eugene Poppa took to the floor to underline the significance of the association designed to lay the ground for both European and North Korean companies to do business with one another more smoothly in the future.
Acting Chairman Kim of the Association for the Promotion of the International Economic and Technological Exchange (APIETE) as well as chairman Jang of one the largest manufacturing and trading groups of the country expressed their welcome on behalf of DPRK enterprises to this new association to substantially further economic ties between European and Korean enterprises.
EBA-president Abt stressed the need for European companies to catch up with Chinese and other Asian companies. In fact, out of the total DPRK foreign trading volume of 3.11 billion USD in 2003 over two third was mainly with China and to a much lesser degree with South Korea and Japan according to the South Korean government. The trade with the EU accounted for less than 10 %. In 2004 foreign trade with China increased by 35,4 %.
Although the European Union increased its exports in the first 6 months of 2004 by 17,2% to 132,0 Mio. USD and its imports by 11,3 % to 17,7 Mio. USD compared to the first semester 2003, Europe’s overall share is further declining.
In its press release EBA says it is pleased to note the sharply increasing interest of Chinese and other Asian companies in investing in and doing business with the DPRK.
It regrets the comparatively weak interest by European companies which is mainly due to a lack of awareness of the promising business and investment potential of the DPRK.
The EBA will therefore contribute to encourage European businesses to invest and do more business in the DPRK. It sees itself as a bridge builder between Europe and the DPRK to substantially increase trade between the two.
The members expressed their hope that the EBA will grow quickly in numbers over the coming years as a consequence of its work aimed at enhancing economic cooperation between Europe and the DPRK.
The event was attended by officials of the DPRK, senior managers of DPRK-companies and ambassadors and other diplomats of the European embassies to the DPRK including the ambassador of the Russian Federation. A visiting Polish business delegation headed by deputy minister Witold Gorski was also present. They mentionned that the first Polish joint venture in the DPRK is operating successfully.