Archive for the ‘Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ROK)’ Category

[ROK] Investors in DPRK take huge hits; interest in FDI plummets

Monday, October 18th, 2010

Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES)
NK Brief No. 10-10-18-1

The majority of joint ventures investing in North Korea have suffered significant losses since the South Korean government began to enforce sanctions as a result of the sinking of the ROKS Cheonan. On average, companies have incurred losses of almost one billion won, and most companies are no longer interested in investing in the North.

According to the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry, a survey of 500 companies (200 inter-Korean economic cooperative schemes and 300 other companies involved in business with the North) showed that 93.9 percent of respondents said they had suffered losses due to trade restrictions put in place due to the Cheonan incident, while 66.5 percent responded that they faced “financial difficulty” due to the sanctions. The companies have suffered an average of 974 million won in losses.

Investment and operational losses due to the ‘all stop’ order from the government amounted to 51.9 percent of losses reported, while 26 percent of respondents pointed to a reduction in orders and 22.1 percent blamed an increase in transportation and other associated costs. One company importing anthracite from the North turned to China, Vietnam, Russia, and other vendors after inter-Korean trade was restricted, but due to each country’s efforts to secure its own natural resources, this year’s sales are expected to be more than 10 billion won less than that seen last year.

Another company, investing in textiles, was strategically producing hand-made works in a North Korean factory, but now production has come to a halt and it may not be able to deliver goods it has produced. A source from the factory stated, “Personnel and raw material expenses in China, Vietnam, and other countries mean that profit margins will be minimal, and there is no alternative.” The same source also stated, “Special funds were distributed from the government, but [companies] are concerned about how long they can hold out.”

As companies invested in North Korea suffer losses in the wake of the Cheonan incident, interest in North Korea investment opportunities is also waning. 82.7 percent of responding companies believe that “even if economic cooperation was normalized, there would be no new investments or continuation of existing projects,” and 76.9 percent of respondents believed that “because of the uncertainty of the North Korean system” non-economic issues would dampen investment enthusiasm. 13.7 percent stated that difficulties with transportation and other infrastructure issues would discourage investment, and 9.4 percent of respondents answered, “North Korean authorities’…interference and restrictions” would turn away foreign investors.

Among those businesses not involved in cooperative economic ventures, 41.5 percent pointed to “North Korea’s overall reform and opening,” while 22.2 percent chose “guaranteeing the security of investments and expanding domestic SOC” as being necessary to propel investment in North Korea. Another 19.7 percent answered, “security issues like North Korean denuclearization” were necessary for improvement in the investment environment.

Many also voiced concerns over the ongoing ban on inter-Korean exchanges. When asked about the impact on business if sanctions against the North were to continue, 5.18 percent of respondents stated, “opportunities for foreign investors will suffer,” while 25.6 percent responded that the North’s economic reliance on China would grow, and 22.6 percent feared that the national image would suffer due to an increase in the security risk.

63.6 percent of respondents call for strengthened protection for investors, including protection against losses as well as guarantees on operational freedoms. 20.1 percent called for easing restrictions on businesses in the Kaesong Industrial Complex, and 16.3 percent pointed to the need for more monetary support.

Even after the government’s announcement halting inter-Korean exchanges on May 24, , inter-Korean trade worth approximately 80 million USD (90 billion won) was recorded due to a number of goods with special exceptions. 639 different cases of imported goods manufactured from raw materials or parts sent to the North prior to the May 24 restrictions amounted to 31.15 million USD, while 269 cases of pre-ordered exports amounted to just over 49 million USD.

This survey was conducted from August 12 to September 1, calling or faxing 200 companies invested in inter-Korean cooperative schemes and 300 of the 1000 companies involved in sales.


Firms in North say they’re not bothered by test

Thursday, July 6th, 2006

Joong Ang Daily
Kim Hyung-soo
However concerned politicians may be about North Korea’s missile test, many Korean companies that deal with the reclusive state are saying it has had minimal impact on business. So far.

Hyundai Asan, which does much of its business in North Korea ― including the Mount Kumgang tour and operating the Kaesong industrial complex ― said it was business as usual. Hyundai Asan said only 50 people canceled their trip to Mount Kumgang yesterday, while 700 people went as planned.

“As the government has already mentioned, private businesses are not subject to restrictions because of the North Korean missile problem,” a Hyundai Asan official said.

The South Korean company stressed that although it has faced problems in the past because of developments in the North, its businesses there have never been forced to stop.

“Business in North Korea should be consistently maintained, as it could be a solution that could solve the strained relationship between the two Koreas,” the official said.

Hyundai Asan said they were more concerned that the North’s recent actions could end up reducing the number of tourists in summer, the high season for travelers.

ShinWon, which manufacturers clothing at Kaesong industrial complex, said the plants there were operating as usual.

“The only difference was that our headquarters in Seoul called to ask what the atmosphere was like in Kaesong,” said a South Korean ShinWon worker at Kaesong.

Despite the firms’ apparent sangfroid, experts were quick to point out the possible long-term consequences. “[The launch] could reduce the credibility of the Korean economy and affect foreign investments,” said an official at the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry. “The future of economic cooperation between the two Koreas has become more uncertain.”

“Poor security is the economy’s biggest negative factor,” said Lee Dong-eung at the Korea Employers Federation. “At times like this society needs to remain calm and unified.”

Though many foreign investors who visited Kaesong last month stressed that politics and business should be kept separate, it remains to be seen how the missile launch will affect foreign sentiment toward the industrial complex.