May 31 – The latest issue of DPRK Business Monthly is now available as a complimentary PDF download on the Asia Briefing Bookstore. The regular magazine looks at current international, domestic, and peninsular affairs concerning North Korea while also offering commentary and tourism information on the country.
In recent international news, British energy company Aminex PLC has withdrawn from North Korea, two years after signing a deal, through its shareholding in Korex Ltd, covering a 50,000 square kilometer area off the country’s east coast.
An Aminex company statement said it was “in the best interests of shareholders for the company to withdraw from the Korean exploration program and not participate in seismic acquisition. This decision will allow Aminex to focus on growing its African portfolio.”
In other international news, China’s Jilin Province is investing billions of RMB in multiple projects along the Sino-North Korean border. The construction is concentrated in areas adjacent to major North Korean border towns in the mountainous region, giving it the hypothetical potential to provide massive opportunities for future Sino-North Korean economic growth.
According to the Jilin Shinmun and other local media outlets, a high-speed railway line which will allow travel from Hunchun on the border to Changchun, capital of Jilin, in two hours at speeds of up to 250 kph, is under construction at a predicted cost of RMB37.7 billion.
With regards to inter-Korean affairs, South Korea’s credit rating would improve if North Korea implemented reforms and opened its doors to the rest of the world, overseas companies based in South Korea believe. According to the South’s Chosun Ilbo, the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) polled 300 foreign firms located in Seoul, and found that 65.3 percent of them predicted North Korean reforms would lead to a ratings upgrade for the South.
On the domestic front, North Korea has been claiming for some time that 2012 is the year it will demonstrate its credentials as a “strong and prosperous nation.”
On March 17, 2012, the day after announcing its intention to launch a missile and place a satellite in orbit, the Korea Central News Agency (KCNA) published new foreign investment laws for the two special economic zones it is promoting on the Chinese border: Rason (formerly Rajin-Sonbong) in the far northeast and the Hwanggumpyong and Wihwa islands in the Yalu River. The juxtaposition of these announcements was most certainly intended to convey that North Korea not only is capable of flexing its high tech muscle, but also has a credible strategy to attract foreign investment and expand trade, and that real and sustained economic growth is just around the corner.
Economic expectations were further raised when leader Kim Jong Un, in his speech on April 15, declared: “It is the Party’s steadfast intention to ensure that the people will never have to tighten their belts again.”
To read further about these topics, and much more, please download the complimentary DPRK Business Monthly PDF from the Asia Briefing Bookstore.
DPRK Business Monthly is produced by North Korea expert Paul White.