Haggard-Noland on North Korea’s economic integration

Stephen Haggard and Marcus Noland published a piece focusing on North Korea’s economic integration.  Download it here: petersoninstitute.pdf

Although not the focus of the piece, here is an excerpt:

A first corollary of the injunction to avoid top-down approaches is that any collective development assistance must be extended in support of economic reform. Experience throughout the developing world demonstrates that assistance will have only marginal effects and may even have negative consequences if not coupled with policy changes. It is not simply that aid sustains the regime; since aid is fungible, even purely humanitarian aid will have that effect. The problem is that too much aid can delay or even undermine the reform process. Whatever the multilateral mechanism that ultimately emerges, it should encourage reform and economic opening in the North.

A second corollary of the injunction against top-down approaches is the importance of engaging the private sector: through trade, foreign direct investment, private capital flows (including remittances), and sheer expertise. Economic rehabilitation will require investment in social overhead capital, which will be led primarily by the public sector. But if North Korea is to evolve toward a self-sustaining market-oriented economy, private-sector involvement will be crucial. Participation of foreign firms means that projects are subject to the market test of profitability, and it encourages North Korean authorities to think of economic engagement in terms of joint gain rather than as political tribute.


North Korea is in need of depoliticized technical assistance for a whole panoply of issues running from the mundane but critical, such as developing meaningful national statistical capabilities, through basic agricultural and health technologies, to social infrastructure of a modern economy. This infrastructure includes policy mechanisms to manage macroeconomic policy, including through reform of the central bank; specify property rights and resolve commercial disputes; regulate markets, including financial markets as they emerge; establish and implement international trade and investment policies; and so on.

Read the full paper here:
A Security and Peace Mechanism for Northeast Asia: The Economic Dimension
Staphen Haggard and Marcus Noland
Peterson Institute Policy Brief
April 2008


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