A Mass-Scale Trade Deficit Results after the July 1 Economic Measure

Daily NK
Park Hyun Min
In North Korea, despite the additional reform measures on the table after the implementation of the 2002 July 1 Economic Management Reform Measure (July 1 Economic Measure), it appears that a mass-scale trade deficit has resulted.

Choi Soo Young, a Senior Researcher of Korea Institute for National Unification, said through a recently published report called “Five years after the July 1 economic measure, North Korea’s Economy and Process of Transformation” in the July issue of the Reunification Affairs Analysis, “The size of the deficit in North Korea’s revenues and expenditures (with the exception of North and South Korea trade) has increased from 790 million dollars in 2002 to 11 hundred million dollars in 2006.”

Researcher Choi said, “After the July 1 economic measure, North Korea, through regionalization of trade activities, which used to revolve around the Central Planning Administration, by allowing provincial-level offices such as the city and district offices, attempted trade revitalization.” However, to control inflation resulting from structural unemployment and shortage of supply, the North Korean government ignored revenues outside of national planning, which was the cause of the deficit.

After he also pointed out that, “When the North Korean economy’s dependence on China became chronic, the situation has become exacerbated,” he said, “North Korea’s export to China in 2006, compared to 2002, rose 72.7%, but on the other hand, import from China increased 163.8%.”

Between 2002-2004, North Korea’s size of trade deficit with China was only around 2 hundred million dollars, but in 2005 and 2006 each, it expanded to 5.8 hundred million dollars and 7.6 hundred million dollars. Further, North Korea’s reliance on trade with China, augmented from 48.5% in 2004, to 52.6% in 2005, and 56.7% in 2006.

Accordingly, North Korea has to depend on China in order to get equipment, energy, and raw materials for industrial production.

Simultaneously, Choi, from the perspective of macroeconomics on the basis of North Korea’s economic growth rate, North Korea’s economy has recovered from the worst situation and is maintaining a low-growth condition.

He analyzed, “From 1990 to 1998, a continuous 9-year negative economic growth has been recorded, but from 1999 to 2004, a positive growth has been achieved. After the July 1 economic measure, the North Korean economy’s low-growth originated from its verbal effort of increasing productions of agricultural and a portion of its light industry goods and the support of the outside world.”

However, he pointed out that it is not off-target to evaluate that the North has a foundation of undergrowth due to its sustained level of low-growth, that its shortage of food, energy, and raw material goods is continuing, and on the industrial front, productions increase has not shown any movement.

On one hand, researcher Choi said that going beyond the financial deficit, in order to realize a form of annual income and annual expenditures, an establishment of the power of taxation for an increase in tax revenues and restraining of unnecessary financial expenses are needed. Also, he ordered the acquirement of an objective tax system for the assurance of an effective financial plan and a fair tax.


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