Primer on the Tumen Area Development Project

Northeast Asia Matters posted a very helpful background paper on the Tumen Area Economic Development Project. According to Northeast Asia Matters:

Many in Northeast Asia wish to see the Tumen Basin develop into a place for economic cooperation and competition. One such plan is the Greater Tumen Initiative (GTI), formerly known as Tumen River Area Development Project (TRADP), being carried out under the auspices of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The 20-year 80 billion USD plan calls for the creation of port facilities and transportation infrastructure in the region to support a multinational trading hub. Countries participating in the GTI are China, Mongolia, North Korea, Russia and South Korea.

The goal of GTI is to make the area into a free economic zone for trade to prosper and attract investment into the area. For China, the project would give traders in Northeast China easier access to major international ports without having to circumnavigate the Korean Peninsula and thus stimulating growth in China’s northeast rustbelt. For Russia, the project would give the ability to better exploit resources in Siberia and allow easier access to North Korea’s resource-rich hinterland; the area just to the south of the Tumen contains reserves of oil, minerals, coal, timber, and abundant farmland.

Development of the Tumen River area and North Korea’s participation in this project means inflow of hard foreign currency, improvements in infrastructure, and possible increase in industrial capacity. North Korea, with its bleak economy, therefore, will most likely continue to support the development of Tumen River area and increase its future involvement in the project as it seeks to break the economic isolation and hardship it has suffered since the collapse of most of its communist allies and the implementation of international sanctions.

Read the full paper here.

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