Adopted by the resolution of the Standing Committee of the Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA) on Oct. 5, 1992, and revised and supplemented by the decree of the SPA Presidium on Aug. 19, 2008
Article 1. Mission and status
This Law contributes to encouraging investment by foreign investors in the DPRK and protecting legal rights and interests of foreign-invested businesses.
The Law is the basic law relevant to foreign investment.
Article 2. Definition of terms
1. A foreign investor is a corporate body or an individual of a foreign country that invests in the territory of the DPRK.
2. Foreign-invested businesses include foreign-invested enterprises and foreign enterprises.
3. A foreign-invested enterprise stands for an equity or contractual joint venture or a wholly foreign-owned enterprise that are set up in the territory of the DPRK.
4. A foreign enterprise indicates an institution, enterprise, individual or other economic organizations from foreign countries with a source of income in the territory of the DPRK.
5. A contractual joint venture is a form of business activity in which investors from the DPRK and a foreign country jointly invest, the management is assumed by the partner from the host country and, depending on the provisions of the contract, the portion of the investment made by the foreign investor is redeemed or the share of the profits to which the foreign investor is entitled is distributed to him.
6. An equity joint venture is a form of business activity in which investors from the DPRK and from a foreign country invest jointly, operate the business jointly, and profits are distributed to the investors in accordance with the shares of their investment.
7. A wholly foreign-owned enterprise is a business enterprise in which a foreign investor invests and manages on his own account.
Article 3. Location
A foreign investor shall be permitted to set up and operate an equity or contractual joint venture within the territory of the DPRK, and a wholly foreign-owned enterprise in the specified area.
Article 4. Protection of rights and interests, provision of their management conditions
The State shall guarantee the legal rights and interests of foreign investors and foreign-invested businesses, as well as the conditions of their management activities.
Article 5. Parties to investment
Institutions, enterprises, individuals and other economic bodies of foreign countries shall be permitted to invest within the territory of the DPRK.
Overseas Korean compatriots shall also be allowed to invest within the territory of the DPRK, subject to the relevant laws and regulations.
Article 6. Sectors and forms of investment
A foreign investor shall be allowed to invest in various sectors such as industry, agriculture, construction, transport, telecommunications, science and technology, tourism, commerce and financial services in various forms.
Article 7. Priority sectors
The State particularly encourages investment in sectors that introduce modern technologies including the high technology, sectors that produce internationally competitive goods, the sectors of resource development and infrastructure construction, and the sectors of scientific research and technical development.
Article 8. Preferential treatment
Those foreign-invested enterprises that invest and operate in priority sectors stipulated in the previous Article shall receive preferential treatment, including the reduction of and exemption from income and other taxes, favourable conditions for land use, and the preferential supply of bank loans.
Article 9. Preferential treatment in the Rason economic and trade zone
Those foreign-invested enterprises that are established in the Rason economic and trade zone shall receive preferential treatments as follows:
1. No customs duty shall be levied on export and import goods other than those items that are prescribed by the State.
2. For an enterprise in a production sector, no income tax shall be payable for 3 years from the first profitable year and income tax may be reduced by up to 50 per cent for the following 2 years. The rate of income tax shall be 14 per cent, which is lower than in other areas.
Article 10. Immigrations in the Rason economic and trade zone
The State shall ensure that the relevant institutions make convenient the immigration formalities and methods for foreign investors entering or leaving the country with the purpose of setting up or operating business enterprises in the Rason economic and trade zone.
Article 11. Prohibition and restrictions on investment
The projects where investment shall be prohibited or restricted are as follows:
1. Projects which endanger the national security or injure public morals of the nation
2. Projects geared to resource export
3. Projects that are inconsistent to the specific standards for environmental protection
4. Technically obsolete projects
5. Projects with low profit
Article 12. Investment property, property rights
A foreign investor may invest in the form of currency, property in kind, industrial property rights, technical know-how and other assets and property rights. The value of assets and property rights invested shall be determined through an agreement between the partners on the basis of the international market prices prevailing at the time of the valuation.
Article 13. Establishment of a branch office, representative office and agency
Foreign-invested enterprises shall be permitted to open branch offices, agencies or liaison offices and to establish subsidiaries in the DPRK or other countries. They shall also be permitted to conduct joint operations with companies in other countries.
Article 14. Legal capacity
Equity or contractual joint venture enterprises and wholly foreign-owned enterprises shall become corporate bodies of the DPRK. Foreign enterprises and their branches, agencies and liaison offices that are set up within the territory of the DPRK shall not become corporate bodies of the DPRK.
Article 15. Term of land lease
The State shall lease the land required for foreign investors and the establishment of foreign-invested enterprises for a maximum period of 50 years.
Land so leased may be transferred or inherited during the period of lease with an approval of the relevant organ.
Article 16. Employment and dismissal of labour
A foreign-invested business shall employ its labour force from the host country. Managerial personnel, technicians and skilled workers for special jobs that are prescribed in the contract may be employed from abroad in agreement with the central trade guidance organ.
Labour force of the DPRK shall be employed or dismissed according to a contract made with the relevant labour service agency.
Article 17. Taxation
Foreign investors and relevant foreign-invested businesses shall pay income tax, turnover tax, property tax and other taxes.
Article 18. Reinvestment
Foreign investors shall be permitted to reinvest the whole or part of their profit within the territory of the DPRK.
In such cases the whole or part of the income tax already paid on the reinvested portion may be refunded.
Article 19. Protection of invested property
Foreign-invested enterprises and assets invested by foreign investors shall not be subject to nationalization or seizure by the State.
Should unavoidable circumstances make it necessary to nationalize or seize such enterprises and assets, fair compensation shall be paid.
Article 20. Remittance
Legal profit and other incomes earned by a foreign investor in its business may be remitted abroad, subject to the laws and regulations of the DPRK relating to foreign exchange control.
Article 21. Confidentiality
The State shall protect by law the business secrets of foreign-invested enterprises and shall not disclose them without the consent of the foreign investor.
Article 22. Settlement of disputes
Any disagreement concerning foreign investment shall be settled through consultation.
In case of failure in consultation, it shall be settled by arbitration or legal procedures provided by the DPRK or may be brought to an arbitration agency in a third country for settlement.
Preferential Treatment for Investment in Priority Sectors
Article 8 of the Law of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea on Foreign Investment specifies that the foreign-invested enterprises that invest and operate in priority sectors shall receive preferential treatment, including the reduction of and exemption from income and other taxes, favourable conditions for land use, and preferential supply of bank loans.
In accordance with the law, the DPRK government grants such preferential treatment as the reduction of and exemption from taxes and favourable conditions for land use to foreign-invested enterprises that invest in priority sectors, enterprises that are established and operated with the investment by overseas Koreans with the citizenship of the DPRK and foreign-invested enterprises that are operated in the special economic zone.
Preferential treatment in the rate of enterprise income tax is as follows.
1) Preferential treatment
– The rate of enterprise income tax of a foreign-invested business is 25 per cent of the taxable income but that of a business funded by an overseas Korean holding the citizenship of the DPRK is 20 per cent. (No. 1 of Article 20 of the Regulations for the Implementation of the Law of the Foreign-invested Business and Foreign Individual Tax)
– The rate of enterprise income tax of a foreign-invested business operating in the Rason economic and trade zone is 14 per cent of the taxable income but that of a business funded by an overseas Korean with the citizenship of the DPRK is 10 per cent. (No. 2 of Article 20 of the Regulations for the Implementation of the Law of the Foreign-invested Business and Foreign Individual Tax)
– The rate of enterprise income tax of a foreign-invested business engaged in the State-encouraged sectors—high technology, development of underground resources, infrastructure construction, scientific research and technological development is 10 per cent of the taxable income. This rate is 10 per cent lower than that of other income taxes of a foreign-invested business. (No. 3 of Article 20 of the Regulations for the Implementation of the Law of the Foreign-invested Business and Foreign Individual Tax)
– When a foreign enterprise earns other incomes such as income from dividends, interests, rent, royalties or other sources in the territory of the DPRK, such incomes shall be taxable at the rate of 20 per cent in other parts of the country and 10 per cent in the Rason economic and trade zone. (Article 10 of the DPRK Law on Foreign-invested Business and Foreign Individual Tax)
Article 29 of the Regulations for the Implementation of the Law of the Foreign-invested Business and Foreign Individual Tax stipulates that:
-Tax may not be imposed on the dividends earned by a foreign-invested enterprise through business activities inside the DPRK.
– In case the government of a foreign country or an international financial organization grants loans to the government of the DPRK or a State bank, or in case a foreign-invested bank gives loans to a bank or an enterprise of the DPRK on favourable terms such as low interest rates (lower than the LIBOR) and the return period of at least 10 years including a grace period, the enterprise income tax on the interest on the loan may be exempted.
-The foreign-invested business which operates for at least 10 years either in the priority sectors or in the manufacturing sectors inside the Rason economic and trade zone may receive immunity from enterprise income tax for 3 years from the first profit-making year and reduction of up to 50 per cent during the two ensuing years.
Enterprise income tax may be exempted or reduced on an income earned by a financial business through offshore banking transactions.
-For a foreign-invested business that makes a total investment of at least 4 500 000 000 won in infrastructure construction projects such as railways, roads, telecommunications, airports and seaports inside the Rason economic and trade zone, enterprise income tax may be exempted for 4 years from the first profit-making year and reduced up to 50 per cent during the three ensuing years.