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A look at North Korea’s economy
Submitted by gudknightors on Mon, 06/15/2009 - 06:32.
_ GDP: North Korea’s gross domestic product was estimated at about $20.2 billion in 2007, according to a report last year by South Korea’s central bank. That was about 2.6 percent the size of neighboring South Korea’s. The Bank of Korea will release its estimate for 2008 later this month. North Korea does not publish economic statistics.
_ STEADY DECLINE: North Korea’s economy over the past two decades has steadily declined. The collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s deprived the country of a key source of trade and aid. Subsequent mismanagement, periodic bouts of severe flooding, crop failures, a famine and a standoff with the international community over its nuclear development that led to sanctions have also hurt the economy.
_ TRADE: North Korea’s top trade partners are China, South Korea, Singapore, India, Russia and Brazil. Japan once was but commercial ties rapidly deteriorated after Tokyo imposed sanctions and restrictions over the North’s abductions of Japanese nationals and its nuclear and missile tests.
_ ILLICIT ACTIVITIES: North Korea has long been accused of engaging in illicit economic activities to supplement its economy and support the ruling regime, including counterfeiting cigarettes and U.S. currency, and drug-smuggling. A U.N. report in 2007 said North Korea makes an estimated $500 million to $1 billion annually from criminal enterprises.
_ CHINESE INFLUENCE: China has become the biggest foreign economic player in North Korea. The Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency, a South Korean trade agency, said in a report in May that Chinese exports to North Korea in 2008 totaled $2.03 billion, while North Korea’s exports to China totaled $750 million. North Korea’s main imports from China were oil and textiles. The North’s key exports were coal and iron ore.
_ RELATIONS WITH SOUTH KOREA: Economic ties with the South flourished throughout much of this decade as Seoul pursued closer political ties with Pyongyang. Joint projects in manufacturing and tourism boosted trade. Relations, however, have deteriorated since South Korean President Lee Myung-bak took office early last year with a vow to get tough with the North. Tourism projects have been suspended and a joint industrial zone has been adversely affected by tightened border controls.
_ NATURAL RESOURCES: North Korea’s resources, which include coal, gold, graphite, iron ore, magnesite, silver, tungsten, zinc have drawn the interest of investors. South Korea’s state-owned Korea Resources Corp. is involved in mining projects in the North.
Sources: The Bank of Korea, Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency, AP reports.
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