DPRK seeks to alter commercial distribution system

According to Yonhap:

North Korea is pushing to give greater autonomy to its distribution sector, a senior Pyongyang official said, in what is seen as another sign of the communist country loosening its tight grip on the planned economy.

In an interview with a monthly magazine published by the pro-Pyongyang General Association of Korean Residents in Japan (Chongryon), Oh Young-min, a director of the North’s Ministry of Commerce, said the ministry will overhaul the way wholesalers distribute consumer goods.

“Wholesalers will offer information on all goods — those manufactured under a government plan, surplus products and unplanned goods — and deliver them after receiving orders from unspecified retail networks,” Oh said in the June edition of the magazine obtained by Yonhap News Agency on Sunday.

The ministry is drawing up a detailed plan to revolutionize the commerce and distribution network in order to meet the needs of the new century, the official said, adding that an order system should be implemented thoroughly in order to boost the efficiency of the distribution sector.

In a planned socialist economy, an order system refers to one where goods are produced and distributed based on the amount of orders from users.

The North’s push is widely deemed a follow-up on the country’s new economic management system, which was announced in late June last year.
“In line with the June measure, North Korea appears to be seeking a change of course by granting individuals greater authority in the distribution of goods,” said Cho Bong-hyun, an analyst at the IBK Economic Research Institute.

The move to overhaul the distribution system also comes two months after North Korea reportedly gave greater leeway to managers of cooperative farms and factories in an effort to boost production.

Last year’s reform drive is seen as a step forward from the country’s similar reformist efforts in 2002, when wages and rice prices were sharply lifted to match market levels. Increased money supply following the wage and rice price hikes triggered severe inflation, causing the reform drive to fail, according to experts.

Read the full story here:
N. Korea seeks to ease state grip on distribution


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