Archive for the ‘GPI Consultancy’ Category

Trade & Investment Mission to North-Korea

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2009

GPI Consultancy
Sept 19-26, 2009
1820 Euros

“In the current financial and economic situation, companies face many challenges. They must cut costs, develop new products and find new markets. In these fields, North-Korea might be an interesting option. Inspired by the economic successes of its neighbouring country China , North-Korea has since a few years opened its doors to foreign enterprises. It established several free trade zones to attract foreign investors and there are several sectors, including textile industry, shipbuilding, agro business, logistics, renewable energy, mining and Information Technology, that can be considered for trade and investment.

North-Korea is competing with other Asian countries by offering skilled labor for very low monthly wages and by offering tax incentives. Last year, North-Korea’s exports rose with 23 percent and its imports with 32 percent. Do you want to explore new business opportunities for your company? Then join us from 19 – 26 September 2009 on our trade & investment mission to North-Korea. The program includes individual matchmaking, company visits, network receptions and dinners. Furthermore, we will visit the annual Autumn International Trade Fair in Pyongyang. We will also meet European business people who are working and living in North-Korea.

The mission is meant for entrepreneurs from various business sectors; tailormade meetings will be arranged by our local partner, the DPRK Chamber of Commerce. The program of this unique mission has been attached and we can be contacted for further details. In case you want to participate: please register as soon as possible, so we can start the visa-application procedure.”

Some examples of investment opportunities in North-Korea:
1. http://www.gpic.nl/invest(hungsong).pdf
2. http://www.gpic.nl/invest(clock).pdf

GPI contact information:
Paul Tjia, Senior Consultant
GPI Consultancy, .O. Box 26151, 3002 ED Rotterdam, The Netherlands
E-mail: paul@gpic.nl tel: +31-10-4254172 fax: +31-10-4254317 Website: www.gpic.nl

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GPI organizaing DPRK business delegation

Sunday, July 5th, 2009

From GPI Consulting:

In the current financial and economic situation, companies face many challenges. They must cut costs, develop new products and find new markets. In these fields, North-Korea might be an interesting option. Inspired by the economic successes of its neighbouring country China, North-Korea has since a few years opened its doors to foreign enterprises. It established several free trade zones to attract foreign investors and there are several sectors, including textile industry, shipbuilding, agro business, logistics, renewable energy, mining and Information Technology, that can be considered for trade and investment.

North-Korea is competing with other Asian countries by offering skilled labor for very low monthly wages and by offering tax incentives.  Last year, North-Korea’s exports rose with 23 percent and its imports with 32 percent. Do you want to explore new business opportunities for your company? Then join us from 19 – 26 September 2009 on our trade & investment mission to North-Korea. The program includes individual matchmaking, company visits, network receptions and dinners. Furthermore, we will visit the annual Autumn International Trade Fair in Pyongyang (see photo). We will also meet European business people who are working and living in North-Korea.
 
The mission is meant for entrepreneurs from various business sectors; tailormade meetings will be arranged by our local partner, the DPRK Chamber of Commerce. The program of this unique mission has been attached and we can be contacted for further details. In case you want to participate: please register as soon as possible, so we can start the visa-application procedure.
 
With best regards,
Paul Tjia (sr. consultant ‘global sourcing’)
GPI Consultancy, P.O. Box 26151, 3002 ED Rotterdam, The Netherlands
E-mail: paul@gpic.nl tel: +31-10-4254172  fax: +31-10-4254317 Website: www.gpic.nl
 
N.B. some examples of investment opportunities in North-Korea:  
http://www.gpic.nl/invest(hungsong).pdf and http://www.gpic.nl/invest(clock).pdf 

GPI’s marketing flyer is here.

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DPRK tech sector update

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009

Time offers a short update on the DPRK’s technology sector.  According to the article:

The country’s Dear Leader has quietly launched an educational offensive to ramp up his country’s computing skills and build an internationally competitive IT industry, moves that experts say have been strongly encouraged by Kim’s oldest son, Jong Nam, who directs the Korea Computer Center. Grade-school kids are now drilled in Pascal and other computer languages, while gifted students are channeled into science and technology programs at Kim Il Sung University and Kim Chaek University, which some have dubbed the MIT of North Korea. Although currently stalled because of troubled bilateral relations with South Korea, another technical university, Pyongyang University of Science and Technology (PUST), is scheduled to open soon; foreign professors are supposed to eventually teach there, in English.

“They understand IT is critical for their development,” says Frederick Carriere, executive director of the New York–based Korea Society, who plays a pivotal role in bilateral programs with both halves of the Korean peninsula. This includes helping to broker a seven-year-long academic exchange between Syracuse University and Kim Chaek, which recently was able to open the country’s first digital library, using open-source software.

“I’d like to see more incentives for the DPRK to participate in this kind of standards-based [open-source] work, because through that participation, you get investment in the world of the sort that presumably reduces the likelihood of certain types of conflict,” argues Stuart Thorson, an IT and governance expert at Syracuse who oversees the program with Kim Chaek, which he says has been hampered by ineffectual U.S. export controls.

Those export controls, of course, are just a symptom of the growing international tensions between Pyongyang and the West. Whether it’s the country’s recent nuclear tests and heated rhetoric directed toward its southern neighbor or the standoff over its jailing of two U.S. reporters, the unstable relations make it more difficult for Kim to deliver on his IT promises.

Even more problematic are the regime’s overriding security preoccupations. Key power and telecom transmissions are buried underground, which complicates much needed maintenance and upgrades. More communications also means eroded state control, which is a vital regime concern. There are currently only a little more than 1 million domestic phone lines — about 5 per 100 inhabitants — although just 10% belong to individuals or households. Unauthorized international calls abroad can lead to fines and arrest and in one case reportedly led to the public execution of a plant manager in October 2007, according to Good Friends, a Seoul-based aid organization. The same fears of the outside world will mean a very cautious and slow opening of the Internet, which is now reserved for trusted government officials and foreigners.

“It would be nice to think that a new high-tech day is dawning over North Korea, but that would be a mistake,” argues David J. Smith, chief operating officer and director of the North Korea Project at the National Institute for Public Policy, a U.S. foreign policy think tank. “North Korea’s high-tech ventures will fail to save its economy without a systemic overhaul, of which the regime is incapable.”

Given a chance, though, North Koreans’ native intelligence does flourish. Two years after first entering a team in the IBM-sponsored Computer Olympics (the International Collegiate Programming Contest), the North Koreans made it into the finals. “They are capable of handling very complicated software, and the results are extremely good,” says Paul Tjia, a Dutchman whose GPI Consultancy has arranged for several European clients to outsource work to North Korean programmers. At Seoul’s Unification Ministry, IT expert Lee Duk Haeng says Samsung and Korean Telecom are among a handful of South Korean firms currently using North Korean engineers.

There are already hundreds of North Korean software engineers working in China, in border cities and elsewhere, according to Heejin Lee, a professor at Yonsei University, who has conducted fieldwork in the region. Most work as subcontractors for South Korean, Japanese or Chinese firms — sometimes in joint ventures — and Lee says there are numerous clandestine firms. The North Koreans earn high marks for their scientific and mathematical skills and come substantially cheaper than their Chinese counterparts — $300-$500 a month, one-third the cost of a Chinese engineer, or half the price of an Indian one, he says.

UPDATE: The first joint venture software company in the DPRK (which handles a number of outsourced projects) is NosotekHere is an interview with the vice president Ju Jong Chol and German president Volker Eloesser.

Read the full article here:
North Korea Tries to Ramp Up Tech Infrastructure
Time
Ken Stier
6/22/2009

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North Korea’s programming industry

Sunday, April 19th, 2009

I came across this video (in Dutch with some English) featuring Leonid Petrov and Paul Tjia.  It contains some interesting information on North Korea’s computer programming industry.

computer-industry.JPG

Click on image to see film 

Paul Tjia of GPI Consultancyin the Netherlands has been running technology business delegations to the DPRK for several years.  Their next delegation will be taking place this May.  To learn more, you can read the marketing leaflet in PDF here.

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European insurers and LinkedIn nervous about the Swiss

Friday, March 20th, 2009

Over the last few years, the European Union has pursued an engagement policy with North Korea.   MEP Glyn Ford makes regular trips to Pyongyang to facilitate diplomatic progress; the German Freidrich Naumann Foundation runs economic education courses; European donors founded the Pyongyang Business School; and a small group of European ex-pat businessmen formed a de facto chamber of commerce, the European Business Association in Pyongyang.  Although European companies have experienced mixed success in the DPRK they continue to look for new opportunities

This morning, however, Felix Abt, a Swiss director of the PyongSu Pharmaceutical Joint Venture Co. in Pyongyang informs me that his life insurance policy (purchased from a European company) has been cancelled. 

“A European life insurance company cancelled my life insurance because I am a dangerous person living in a dangerous country. Credit card organisations cancel credit cards for such persons in such countries, health insurance companies come up with other reservations and limitations and the latest organisation that has just expelled me is LinkedIn with a very curious explanation.”

I am unsure how the cancellation of life insurance policies could impact other Europen investments in the DPRK, but the marginal effect cannot be positive.  Mr. Abt has been a resident of Pyongyang for years where he manufactures Western-quality pharmaceuticals.  Needless to say, the DPRK is very much in need of his services, so it is a shame that after all this time he is now considered a liability by his insurer.

Mr. Abt also forwarded his rejection from the business networking site LinkedIn, which is posted below:
 

linkedin.JPG

Apparently LinkedIn‘s legal department considers logging into the server as “receiving goods of US origin” (the software I presume), and so it prohibits account holders, or even logging in, from Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan and Syria—even if they are Swiss.

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Doing Business with North-Korea Seminar

Wednesday, February 18th, 2009

Wednesday 4 March, 14:00 – 17:30
KVK The Hague, Randstadzaal
Koningskade 30, 2596 AA  Den Haag

This event is sponsored by GPI Consultancy (see previous posts here).

Speakers include:

Willem Lobbes, boardmember of the Dutch Korean Tradeclub, Director of Lobbes Insurance Consultants

Representative of the DPRK Embassy in Bern, Switzerland

Egbert Wissink, CEO of NovolinQ BV

Professor Evert Jacobsen, University of Wageningen

Kees van Galen, CEO VNC Asia Travel
 
Paul Tjia, Director of GPI Consultancy

The AGENDA can be found here (PDF).

The REGISTRATION FORM can be downloaded here.

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GPI consultancy report on DPRK trade mission

Sunday, October 19th, 2008

From GPI:

For many entrepreneurs, North-Korea is a relatively unknown trade destination. For this reason, from 28 September to 4 October 2008, a Dutch economic delegation investigated the business climate in this country. You may download a short report of this unique mission here.  Because of its success, another mission will be organised in 2009.
  
The participants noticed trade and investments in several fields, including textile and garments, shipbuilding, agribusiness, logistics, mining, animation and Information Technology. The findings of the mission will be presented at the seminar “Doing business with North-Korea”, which will take place in The Hague in spring 2009. A videofilm about the tour will be shown as well.
  
If you are interested in business opportunities in North-Korea, or in joining a seminar or trade mission, please contact us for further details. It is also possible for us to give presentations at business seminars abroad, in order to present the findings of the Dutch mission in more detail.
 
With best regards,
Paul Tjia (sr. consultant ‘offshore sourcing’)
GPI Consultancy, P.O. Box 26151, 3002
ED Rotterdam, The Netherlands
E-mail: paul@gpic.nl
tel: +31-10-4254172 
fax: +31-10-4254317
Website: www.gpic.nl
report_dutch_trade_mission_to_north_korea.pdf

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Doing business in North Korea seminar

Sunday, September 21st, 2008

Capital Club, Beijing
Sept 29, 2008

Spearkers include: Dr. Leonid Petrov and Paul Tija
Agenda and reservation information here: dprk_seminar.pdf

The DPRK (North-Korea) is in need of many foreign products and investments, while there are also opportunities for production and outsourcing. From the end of September to 4 October 2008, a Dutch economic mission will investigate the business climate in this country, with participants from different business sectors, including agribusiness, light industry and computer software.   
 
Before leaving for Pyongyang, the trade mission will start its tour in Beijing. On 29 September, some of the participants will join the BenCham (Benelux Chamber of Commerce) event: “Doing business with North-Korea”. This dinner/seminar takes place at the famous Capital Club and will start at 18:30. The leader of the trade delegation, Paul Tjia of GPI Consultancy, will give a presentation. If you or your colleagues in China are interested, then you are welcome to join the event. Program details (including information on registration and dress code) can be found in the PDF file above.       
 
Due to the growing European interest in trading with the DPRK, we are planning to organize another trade mission to North-Korea in 2009. This trip will be open for business participants from other countries as well. If you are interested in joining a future trade mission, or wishing to cooperate, please contact us for further details.    
 
With best regards,
Paul Tjia (sr. consultant ‘offshore sourcing’)
GPI Consultancy, P.O. Box 26151, 3002 ED Rotterdam, The Netherlands
E-mail: paul@gpic.nl tel: +31-10-4254172  fax: +31-10-4254317 Website: www.gpic.nl

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GPI Consultancy: Economic Mission to North-Korea

Wednesday, July 16th, 2008

Netherlands Centrum voor Handelsbevordering
27 September – 4 October 2008  
View the information flyer with more information here: it-tour_dprk.pdf

For the past decades, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) also known as North-Korea has been one of the most isolated countries in the world. Until recently, foreign companies could hardly enter this country. Inspired by the economic successes of its neighbouring country China, North-Korea has since a few years opened its doors for foreign enterprises. The DPRK established several free trade zones to attract foreign investors. In 2002 North Korea started to experiment with the Kaesong Industrial Region, near the South-Korean border. Moreover, other areas were designated as Special Administrative Regions, such as Sinŭiju near the border with China.
 
Currently, China and South-Korea are the most important trade partners of North-Korea; their mutual trade is growing fast. Also for European companies there are many opportunities to trade with North-Korea. During the recent seminar: ‘Doing Business with North-Korea’ (The Hague, 30 May) the representative from North-Korea highlighted that there are business opportunities in several fields, including Textile Industry, Shipbuilding, Agro Business, Logistics and Information Technology.

DPRK finds itself at the beginning of a new era of openness. In North-Korea there is a need for many foreign products and investments. The Chamber of Commerce Amsterdam, GPI Consultancy and the Netherlands Council for Trade Promotion are organizing an economic mission to investigate the business opportunities for foreign companies in this country. This unique economic mission to North-Korea will take place from 27 September to 4 October 2008. Our partner in North-Korea is the Pyongyang Chamber of Commerce. Mr. Renze Hasper, Member of the Board of the Chamber of Commerce Amsterdam, will be the mission leader of this economic mission. 
 
The program includes individual matchmaking, company visits, network receptions and dinners. Furthermore, a visit is being planned tot the Kaesong Industrial Region.

GPI Consultancy is responsable for the IT-program of the mission. As an example, the program for the IT-delegates has been attached; they will visit firms in Pyongyang in the field of software development, animation, cartoons, computer games and BPO (Business Process Outsourcing). Similar matchmaking visits will be arranged for delegates from other business sectors.
  
The mission is open for participants from other countries as well.
If you are interested in joining this trade mission, please contact:

Paul Tjia
GPI Consultancy
P.O. Box 26151,
3002 ED Rotterdam,
The Netherlands
E-mail: paul@gpic.nl
tel: +31-10-4254172 
fax: +31-10-4254317
Website: www.gpic.nl 

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Interview with president of Nosotek, JV company in DPRK

Tuesday, July 1st, 2008

Via Interview Blog:

UPDATE: Here is an interview with Jürgen Bein about the Kaesong Industrial Zone (In German)

Klaus-Martin Meyer: Mr. Eloesser, you recently became the President of Nosotek Joint Venture Company in Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea. In which the field of business is Nosotek operating?

Volker Eloesser: We do general IT outsourcing. This includes data base applications, 3D technology development as well a games production. Nosotek’s customers come from all over the world and some of our products are even used in the US.

Klaus-Martin Meyer: According to your CV, before you were heading to North Korea, you’ve been the general manager of Elocom, a subsidiary of a German Joint Venture between News Corporation (NWS.A) and Verisign (VRSN). It’s quite unusual for a high-ranking manager of a US based public company to move to North Korea.

Volker Eloesser: That’s true. But I don’t see my job as a political mission. At Elocom, I was managing a company producing mobile phone software technology. Neither my old job nor my new one is a political one.

Klaus-Martin Meyer: What’s your opinion about the demolition of the nuclear cooling tower in Yongbyon and the announcement of the US President George W. Bush to remove the country from the terrorism blacklist?

Volker Eloesser: This was great news. I think that both parties, the Korean and US government, took wise decisions which hopefully help giving peace a chance through diplomacy. For our business, lifting the sanctions will have a very positive impact, as well as for the People in the DPRK. North Korean Companies, domestic and foreign-invested, were suffering a lot under the sanctions. Foreign trade was very difficult and many potential customers feared to get trouble when making business with the DPRK.

Klaus-Martin Meyer: When did you first get interested into the DPRK? Did you already do active business with North Koreans before?

Volker Eloesser: Of course I did. In the beginning of 2005, I held lectures at the Pyongyang Business School. The Korean participants of my lectures were great people really interested into international business.

Klaus-Martin Meyer: Who are the shareholders of Nosotek? Is it a state-run company?

Volker Eloesser: Nosotek is a joint-venture between a European owned private holding company and the General Federation of Science and Technology of DPRK, a non-government organization.

Klaus-Martin Meyer: Along being the president of Nosotek, you are Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Next Generation Entertainment N.V. (NGE), a Dutch public company. Are there any links between NGE and North Korea?

Volker Eloesser: NGE’s management is highly interested in investing into the DPRK software industry. The CEO Dr. Stefan Heinemann believes that the DPRK will become a very important sourcing market in the near future, which has many advantages over China and India. Having this in mind, it makes a lot of sense for NGE to have a board member with experience in dealing with North Koreans.

Klaus-Martin Meyer: How would you describe the difference of outsourcing software in the DPRK compared to China or India?

Volker Eloesser: The DPRK’s software industry is already very well developed, but only for the demands of the domestic market. Although the skill level of the engineers is as high as the skill level in China or India, most DPRK software companies never made successful international business in large scale. The Korean engineers usually have no experience with western culture, habits and taste. But of course you’ll experience the same, when working with some small Indian or Chinese companies. One major advantage of the Korean engineers is that they don’t move to a new job frequently, like the Chinese. In this matter, you can compare the Koreans with Japanese staff, who usually never leave the company to move to another job. The result is obvious: the experience and knowledge stays within the company and there is no risk of IP leak.

Klaus-Martin Meyer: Are you personally living in North Korea or can you do your job remotely?

Volker Eloesser: It’s definitely required to have western management in a company dealing with western customers. Every attempt of people trying to do this remotely has failed. I’m planning to live in Pyongyang most of the year. I have a nice apartment in the city centre.

Klaus-Martin Meyer: Living in Pyongyang sounds hard. How are the living conditions for foreigners in Pyongyang? What about your family?

Volker Eloesser: Well, it’s not as hard as western readers may think. Of course the hardest thing is to live separated from my wife, but she promised to visit me frequently. Generally, the living conditions for westerners in Pyongyang are good: The air is totally clean, there is no risk of becoming a crime victim, there is a lot of green in the city and the Korean people are generally very friendly .

Klaus-Martin Meyer: Usually, western media has almost no idea about the real working and living conditions of the people in North Korea. Can you tell us something about the working conditions of your local staff?

Volker Eloesser: One of my goals is to achieve working conditions according to German standard. The staff is equipped with the latest computer hardware and enjoys a lot of incentives from the company to make their live comfortable. For example, the company is providing free lunch for the whole staff, which is delicious and nutritious. I myself have lunch together with my engineers every day, and I like it very much. Additionally to the large number of public holidays, the company even sponsors a one-week holiday trip. This is the way we appreciate the performance on the job.

Klaus-Martin Meyer: What are the most difficult obstacles, western managers are facing in the DPRK? Do you stuffer from political pressure?

Volker Eloesser: I’ve not yet experienced any political pressure, but of course you need to get used to the local security regulations and bureaucracy. When you behave politely, don’t do derogative statements about politics and respect the Korean culture, you won’t face any serious problems. The most difficult obstacle is the absence of international experience of the software engineers, combined with the cultural differences typical to Asian countries.

Klaus-Martin Meyer: How many European businesspeople like you have discovered the DPRK as tomorrow’s sourcing market?

Volker Eloesser: Actually, not many so far. The European community in Pyongyang is very small. After a few weeks, you know every foreigner. Most Europeans who do business in the DPRK are organized in the European Business Association. But I feel that the community is growing since business managers are more and more recognising that doing business in and with the DPRK is of course working with a frontier framework but also with a great potential of highly-skilled people with an impressive work ethic and an attractive cost-performance ratio – and also an emerging domestic market.

Klaus-Martin Meyer: What drives you personally to go there and build up an internationally operating company?

Volker Eloesser: Leading a foreign invested company in North Korea is a great challenge for me. During my lectures at the Pyongyang Business School, I realized that the skilled North Korean IT engineers have a huge potential for successful software development. This potential is almost unrecognized in the world and therefore unused. I like to be the pioneer who builds up this new outsourcing destination. I believe that economic progress will lead to a general improvement of the people’s living conditions and IT business is a key to economic progress. If you ask me, I would tell you that my work will have a greater impact on improving the North Korean living conditions then just sending bags of rice.

Klaus-Martin Meyer: Do you experience economic progress or political changes in North Korea?

Volker Eloesser: The question about political changes should better be answered by the politicians. But indeed you can see economic progress: Compared to my first visit in 2005, there are now much more cars in the street and the number of foreign investment seem to have significantly grown. A group from Hong Kong is building a large shopping and business area along the Taedonggang river and Orascom from Egypt is continuing the Ryugyong Hotel construction as well as investing into a modern mobile phone network. And recently the German-based Prettl Group (Automotive industry) announced that it will be the first foreign non-Korean company to build a factory in Kaesong.

Klaus-Martin Meyer: Nosotek is located in Pyongyang. Do you think things could be easier for companies operating out of the Kaesong free trade zone?

Volker Eloesser: I’ve never been in Kaesong myself. From what I’ve heard, the free trade zone, which has been build with ROK investment, is a modern factory area, mostly targeted to low-cost production of shoes or textile. I don’t know of any software development in Kaesong. Pyongyang, being the economic and cultural centre of the DPRK with large universities, offers a huge number of qualified engineers.

Klaus-Martin Meyer: What are your plans for Nosotek’s future? How do you see your company in five years? What is your strategy?

Volker Eloesser: My plan for Nosotek is a constant growth. First of course, everybody in Nosotek has to understand the demands of our customers; not only the technical demands but also the usual communication style and habits of the western world. At the moment, we’re only fifty people and I’m starting to build up a powerful middle management, who knows their customer’s expectations. After this has been done, we can begin scaling the business volume.

Klaus-Martin Meyer: Are there other western IT companies having operations in the DPRK?

Volker Eloesser: Nosotek still is the only one. But according to Paul Tjia of GPI Consultancy who organizes business missions to the DPRK, the number of people interested into software development in the DPRK is constantly growing. I hope that Paul will bring more people here to operate software companies. With other Foreigners here, working in the same or similar field of business we together can help strengthening the DPRK to become a better known source for software development. Bangalore is still far, but I’m sure the quality delivered by the Korean IT engineers will be convincing, not only to grow Nosotek, but also to grow the country itself as an outsourcing destination.

Klaus-Martin Meyer: Mr. Eloesser, thank you for the interview.

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