Promotion of Foreign Investments into Hwanggumpyong and Other Special Economic Zones

Institute for Far Eastern Studies

North Korea is exerting efforts in pulling Chinese investments into its special economic zones (SEZs).

On September 7, the 8th Jilin, China-Northeast Asia Investment and Trade Expo was held in Changchun, China as well as the 6th high-level forum for Northeast Asian economic and trade joint venture to promote the joint investment projects of Rason and Hwanggumpyong special economic zones.

At the event, North Korean officials focused on explaining the advantages and favorable conditions for foreign investors, including the joint management committee to be operated by both countries and laws and regulations installed for investment protection.

In the past, North Korea mainly focused on Rason SEZ but this time around, the spotlight was turned to Hwanggumpyong. Chinese officials went on to explain the details of 14.4 square-kilometer Hwanggumpyong SEZ, where five major industries – textiles, modern agriculture, electronics and communications, culture and industrial and trade services – with industry, culture, and service serving as the three major functions of Hwanggumpyong.

Furthermore, the tariff, tax and other benefits will be provided to various industries. The processing trade industry will be exempt from tariffs, and those companies operating for more than ten years will be granted tax exemptions, while those companies contributing to the infrastructure construction, tourism and hotels will be given priority and other favorable conditions. Last year, North Korea only centered its attention to Rason SEZ, with no mentioning of Hwanggumpyong.

Out of the thirty companies that participated at the North Korean exhibit, were from Rason SEZ. These companies represent the successful cases of Rason, recognized for abundant seafood, processed foods, and textile production.

One company from Rason stated, “repair and expansion project for the road connecting Hunchun with Rason will be completed by the end of this year, which will stabilize power supply that can attract more foreign investment from China.” According to a North Korean businessperson, there are 216 companies currently operating in Rason and over 80 percent are joint venture through foreign capital.

Since January 2010, the city of Rason received the designation as the metropolitan city and has improved the business conditions. Foreign companies inviting their business partners from home to Rason became easier, where visas were processed efficiently, as quickly as a day.

There are plans of more briefing sessions for North Korean SEZs to be held in Beijing, later this month. It is planned to be held from September 26 to 27 with over 30 state managed companies and over 100 representatives participating to explain 50 new investment projects.

The invitation of this event reiterated, the purpose of this briefing session was to attract Chinese investment for North Korean companies, for the contribution of economic development and improvement of people’s lives in North Korea.”

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