Archive for the ‘IMF/World Bank’ Category

Moon: North Korea wants to join international financial institutions

Wednesday, September 26th, 2018

Benjamin Katzeff Silberstein

NK News reports some of the comments that Kim Jong-un made to Moon Jae-in on the topic:

Speaking at a discussion hosted by the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), the Asia Society Policy Institute, and Korea Society, Moon said Seoul plans to support the DPRK’s national economic development should sanctions be lifted following “substantive denuclearization.”

“South Korea intends to take the initiative in putting its weight behind the North Korean economic development, including in the construction of infrastructure,” the South Korean President said. “I believe that will also provide fresh vitality and growth for the South Korean economy.”

The South Korean President said, however, that there would be “a number of limitations” should Seoul work to help Pyongyang’s national economic development, stressing the necessity for support from international financial institutions.

“I think international funds supporting North Korea’s infrastructure will need to be created,” Moon added. “Other international agencies including the WB (World Bank), the World Economic Forum, and the Asian Development Bank should aid North Korea.”

Pyongyang is willing to accept support from international organizations, Moon said, including the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

“I’ve confirmed that the North Korean side has the will to engage in reform and opening by joining several international organizations such as IMF and World Bank,” he said.

South Korean finance minister Kim Dong-yeon in May announced that Seoul was seeking shortcuts to allow North Korea to receive funding and support from International Financial Institutions (IFIs), including the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).

Full article:

North Korea wants to join IMF and World Bank, pursue economic reform: Moon
Dagyum Ji
NK News

As I’ve written about elsewhere, North Korea joining the IMF and/or the World Bank would entail a number of structural reforms that should, at least in theory, improve the health of the economy. The requirements to improve transparency in economic data would also be crucial, not just for those outside of North Korea interested in its economic situation, but also for the North Korean government itself, which likely does not have a very full picture of many of the most important economic indicators in the economy.


Deforestation in North Korea continues, new data shows

Thursday, March 24th, 2016

By Benjamin Katzeff Silberstein

Yesterday I stumbled upon a nice interactive World Bank data map that shows where forests have been lost and gained since the 1990s. Forestry is one of those rare areas where fairly extensive data exists for North Korea. Of course, all data has its faults and flaws, and figures on North Korea should always be taken with a grain of salt. But even if the figures aren’t fully correct to the last decimal, they show an interesting trend.

The World Bank World Development Indicators figures seem to be coming from the Forest and Agriculture Organization (FAO)’s Global Forest Resource Assessment, and their latest study of global forestry assets was done just last year (2015). Using these figures, I created a graph showing North Korea’s forestry area (in blue), using South Korea as a baseline comparison.

forestry DPRK ROK smaller

Data source: World Bank World Development Indicators. Graph created by Benjamin Katzeff Silberstein.

Deforestation is far from a new problem in North Korea. What’s interesting is that it appears to continue without signs of abating.

This data stretches all the way to 2015. According to one estimate, North Korean forests shrank by about 17 percent between 1970 and 1990. By the end of 2008, the United Nations estimated that around one third of all forests had been lost in North Korea. If the World Bank data is accurate, it suggests that this trend has continued exponentially, and that the situation has continued to worsen. According to the World Bank data, North Korea lost almost 40 percent of its forests between 1990 and 2015.

As this blog has laid out before, the cycle of problems is well known: people essentially cut down trees as a form of coping behavior in the face of resource scarcity, in order to clear areas for farmland, and to use wood as an energy source. When the annual torrential rains sweep over the Korean peninsula, the lack of trees contributes to soil erosion, spoiling harvests and causing devastation. Kim Jong-un highlighted forestry as an important policy area in 2015. The priority makes a lot of sense, but so far, the solutions don’t seem all that promising.

North Korea celebrated a “Tree Planting Day” about three weeks ago, and the Russian embassy in Pyongyang participated in the celebrations. Their pictures (see this link for their Facebook album) give an interesting snapshot of how it might look across the country as the regime’s tree planting drive unfolds:

A North Korean forestry official (?) giving instructions about tree planting. Photo credits: Russian embassy in Pyongyang.

A North Korean forestry official (?) giving instructions about tree planting. Photo credits: Russian embassy in Pyongyang.


The Russian ambassador and a young North Korean planting a tree together. Photo credits: Russian embassy in Pyongyang.


Young North Korean men in Red Cross (적십자) vests lining up for tree planting. Photo credits: Russian embassy in Pyongyang.









Young North Koreans listening to tree planting instructions. Photo credits: Russian embassy in Pyongyang.









Instructions for how to plant and tend to trees. Photo credits: Russian embassy in Pyongyang.

Instructions for how to plant and tend to trees. Photo credits: Russian embassy in Pyongyang.








DPRK more stable in Kim Jong-un era

Wednesday, September 25th, 2013

According to Yonhap:

North Korea’s political stability has improved over the past couple of years following its power transition, a World Bank report showed Wednesday.

According to the World Governance Indicators (WGI) data compiled by the World Bank, the North’s aggregate indicator of “political stability and absence of violence” came to 0.01 in 2012, up from minus 0.32 a year earlier.

The data reflect perceptions of the likelihood that a government will be destabilized or overthrown by unconstitutional or violent means, including politically motivated violence and terrorism, the organization said.

They are measured based on 31 underlying sources reporting the perceptions of governance of a large number of survey respondents and expert assessments worldwide, with scores ranging from minus 2.5 to plus 2.5, according to the bank.

The level of the communist country’s stability reached minus 0.51 in 1996 when expectations ran high even among serious North Korea observers about the collapse of the regime following the death of its founder Kim Il-sung.

After his son Kim Jong-il took the helm, the figure had been on the rise to reach 0.54 in 2008. But it plunged to minus 0.38 in 2010, which is likely attributable to his faltering health.

Following Kim Jong-il’s death in December 2011, his youngest son Kim Jong-un inherited the power and has since led the country, which would make the country more stable than before when the future was less certain.

North Korea stood in the middle among 215 countries surveyed in terms of political stability in 2012, according to the report.

The WGI paper shows governance indicators for around 200 countries over the period from 1996 to 2012, covering six categories: voice and accountability; political stability and absence of violence; government effectiveness; regulatory quality; rule of law; and control of corruption.

In terms of the remaining five indicators, North Korea ranked low, with its level of voice and accountability, which reflects freedom of expression and citizen participation in selecting their government, coming to minus 2.17, government effectiveness to minus 1.93 and rule of law to minus 1.25, the report showed.

Read the full story here:
N. Korea more politically stable after power shift: World Bank


DPRK should open dialogue for funds

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

According to the AFP:

North Korea should first open dialogue with the world if it wants foreign investment to revive its troubled economy, a senior World Bank official said Monday.

Jim Adams, World Bank vice president for East Asia and Pacific, said it had yet to be approached by Pyongyang in connection with its reported plan to raise foreign funds by setting up its own development bank.

Adams, in Tokyo to meet Japanese officials and lawmakers, said it was a “key challenge” for the communist state to first map out its own plan to approach the outside world.

“Once those decisions are made, I think there can be an appropriate response,” Adams told a news conference. “But so far I don’t see those decisions having been made.”

There is no doubt that the DPRK needs foreign investment.  The problem is credible commitment to contract terms and the kinds of concessions investors will require.


NK Wants to Join IMF, World Bank

Sunday, May 6th, 2007

Korea Times

South Korea has expressed its willingness to back North Korea’s move to join the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank.

At a news briefing in Seoul Sunday, five lawmakers from the Uri Party, who visited Pyongyang for four days from May 2, said the North is considering applying for membership of the Washington-based World Bank and the IMF.

“We’ve promised to help North Korea become a member of international organizations,” said Rep. Kim Jong-yull who met North Korean leaders, including Kim Yong-nam, chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly.

The United States and several developed countries have shown a lukewarm attitude over North Korea’s entry into international organizations, including the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

According to South Korean government officials, the U.S. _ a major shareholder in the IMF, World Bank and ADB _ has played a major role in rejecting Pyongyang’s repeated applications for admission, demanding the disposal of nuclear facilities.

The five lawmakers of the Uri Party and the North’s leaders also discussed ways to create a joint peace zone at the mouth of the Han, Imjin and Yeseong rivers.

According to the lawmakers, North Korea reiterated its willingness to normalize diplomatic ties with the United States. The North Korean authorities want their willingness to be conveyed to President Roh Moo-hyun and Washington, said Rep. Kim Hyuk-kyu, chief of the delegation.

He also said the two Koreas have shared a consensus on the need to launch an inter-Korean agency to build a waterway between Seoul and Gaesong, and an ecology park, and to open border rivers along the Demilitarized Zone for joint development and utilization.

They also discussed the development of a joint special economic zone, named the New Yellow Sea Joint Special Economic Zone. Seoul also promised to help the North develop a heavy industrial complex near Haeju. The two sides also agreed to jointly develop coalmining in Dancheon, South Hamgyeong Province, North Korea.

The two sides also discussed sports exchanges for national reconciliation and a joint team for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. The North will consider allowing its soccer players to join in K-League matches in the South, he added.

The lawmaker said, “North Korea predicted the issue over its funds at Banco Delta Asia (BDA) will be resolved soon.”

The North’s funds at BDA have become a stumbling block to implementing the Feb. 13 accord reached in the six-party talks.

North Korea had promised to shut down and seal its primary nuclear facilities by April 14, but it refused to meet the deadline, and insisted it will comply with the February promise only after the money is released.

The money, which was suspected of being related to Pyongyang’s irregular activities such as money laundering and counterfeiting, has been available for withdrawal since earlier this month, but Pyongyang has yet to move the funds.