Monday, October 17, 2005

Economic Reforms in North Korea

A second conference between EU and North Korea was held in Pyongyang last week.The main topics included the role of the state in economic management, foreign direct investment, management of state-owned enterprises, and agriculture.

While hailed as a positive sign - as any interaction between North Koreans and the outside world should be - it was not certain whether the conference would yield any actual results. As the FT piece reported:
Separately, a western diplomat ... recounted a conversation with a senior North Korean economist in which he said the 2002 reforms were a temporary measure aimed at buying time until the economy gain some strength after the famine of the late 1990s and the collapse of socialism in eastern Europe. "He said the North would reimpose some central planning," the diplomat said.
It is also interesting to note that North Korea presents yet another arena where the EU is proceeding along its own path in international relations. Notably, one that is quite divergent to the path the US is travelling down. So far, as I understand, the US is not close to sending or even supporting any delegations to North Korea that are looking into assisting North Korea witeconomicmc reforms or engaging in FDI. There have been some US Congressional trips but that is usually political, not economic. If things come to a head between US and North Korea (moreso than they already have) then we could see a similar relationship to that of the US-Iran-EU triangle which possibly wouldn't be a developmenconduciveve to solving the nuclear issue anymore than it is in the Iran situation.

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"Hell" by Yasutaka Tsutsui