NK Economy Shrinks 1.1% in 2006

Korea Times
Na Jeong-ju

North Korea’s economy posted negative growth in 2006 for the first time in eight years on decreased production of agricultural and fisheries goods, the Bank of Korea (BOK) said Thursday.

In its estimate for the North’s economic growth, the central bank said the North’s real gross domestic product (GDP) shrank 1.1 percent in 2006 from a year ago, a turnaround from a 3.8 percent expansion in 2005. Until 2006, the North’s GDP had grown for seven years in a row since a 6.2 percent rise in 1999.

The GDP is the total output of goods and services produced within a country.

“Due to bad weather, North Korea’s agricultural, forestry and fisheries production fell with the construction industry remaining sluggish,” the BOK said. “North Korea seems to have suffered a blow as its international relations deteriorated due to its nuclear issues on top of a shortage of energy.”

The economic gap between the two Koreas grew larger last year.

North Korea’s nominal GDP increased 5.8 percent from a year ago to $25.6 billion last year, while South Korea’s GDP rose to $887.3 billion. South Korea’s GDP is 34.7 times larger than that of North Korea, widening from a 32.6-fold difference in 2005.

North Korea’s per-capita gross national income (GNI) came to $1,108 last year, up from $1,056 a year earlier, while South Korea’s per-capita GNI of $18,372 was 16.6 times bigger than that of the North, expanding from a 15.5 fold-difference. The North’s population reached 23.1 million, while the South’s was 48.3 million.

North Korea’s trade remained unchanged year-on-year at $3 billion last year, compared with South Korea’s $634.9 billion. The South’s trade was 212 times bigger than the North’s last year, rising from a 182-fold difference in 2005.

Pyongyang saw its exports dip 5.2 percent year-on-year to $950 million in 2006 as outbound shipments of animal products, non-metal goods and machinery decreased, while imports gained 2.3 percent to $2.1 billion.

Inter-Korean trade increased 27.8 percent from a year earlier to $1.4 billion. South Korea’s shipments to North Korea advanced 16 percent to $830.2 million, mainly on increased rice and fertilizer aid.

Inbound shipments from the North jumped 52.7 percent to $519.5 million on a hike in inter-Korean projects and mineral imports, the BOK said.

North Korea’s agricultural, forestry and fisheries industry declined 2.6 percent year-on-year last year, a turnaround from a 5 percent gain in 2005. The construction industry dipped 11.5 percent after gaining 6.1 percent the previous year.

The mining sector growth decelerated to 1.9 percent from 3.5 percent. Its manufacturing sector expansion slowed to 0.4 percent from 4.9 percent. The services industry grew 1.1 percent last year after increasing 1.3 percent in 2005, the central bank said.

North Korean economy posted 2006 downturn
Joong Ang Daily
Jung Ha-won

North Korea’s economy shrank for the first time in eight years last year as agricultural production declined due to natural disasters and sluggish infrastructure development, according to estimates by South Korea’s central bank.

The Bank of Korea said yesterday that it believes North Korea’s 2006 gross domestic product declined 1.1 percent from a year earlier, the first downturn since 1999. The BOK, since 1991, has estimated the figures based on data from South Korean intelligence agencies and other research institutes. North Korea does not release economic data.

According to the estimate released yesterday, North Korea’s agriculture and marine industries last year declined 2.6 percent from 2005, when production rose by 5 percent.

“North Korea suffered from a serious flood last year, in stark contrast to 2005 when there was no major flood and farm production was good,” said a BOK official who refused to be named.

Growth in mining production, one of North Korea’s major industries, slowed to 1.9 percent from 3.5 percent in 2005. Manufacturing inched up 0.4 percent, down from 4.9 percent growth in 2005.

Construction sector production showed the biggest downturn at 11.5 percent from a year earlier, compared to 6.1 percent growth in 2005, as road and railway construction slowed, the central bank said.

Using satellite data, the bank estimated North Korea built just 49 kilometers (30.4 miles) of new roads last year, a sharp decline from 310 kilometers built in 2005.


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