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Last Updated:[27-07-2010 23:30:25 EDT] Zoom in Zoom out Back to Tradenews

Staunch Trade Ties Do Not Vouch Chinese to Invest in N-Korea

tradenews A Chinese trade expert in an interview to the Global Times, a Chinese newspaper and arm of People’s Daily told many Chinese companies had lost money while trading and investing in North Korea as the country often changed its policies. Gao Xinli, a professor of international economy and trade at Eastern Liaoning University divulged this during an exclusive to the GT.

While responding to the GT reporter Li Yanjie's query about the investment environment in N Korea, Gao said North Korea had low credibility. However, he admitted though in the short term there was a high level of risk, but in the long term Chinese companies might benefit from investing there.

The history of Sino-North Korean trade dates back to 1954 as China's Ministry of Foreign Trade, as it was then known, approved border trade between both sides in regards to local residents' demands for food items. At that time, China's main exports to North Korea were clothes, paper, textile pigments and other light industry products, and China imported seafood and fruits from the North.

Between 1971 and 1981the trade was interrupted, it got revived since 1982 to hit a trade volume of about $540,000, and grew manifold to reach at around $52.08mn in 1989. According to the Dandong statistics department, the trade volume between Dandong, the main border province and North Korea increased from $15.39mn to $314mn between 1990 and 2004.

At the beginning of the 1990s, the bilateral trade accounted for only 11.6 percent of North Korea's total foreign trade volume. But by mid-1990s, the border trade reached around 30 percent of North Korea's total foreign trade volume. However, North Korea's economy went through a recession during the latter half of 1990s, causing slide in trade.

Gao further added that since 2001, Sino-North Korean trade volume had grown rapidly due to two reasons, one being economic sanctions, and other as China needed the Korean mineral resources in exchange of food. According to the statistics from China's Ministry of Commerce, by 2007, the two-way trade has reached 41.71 percent of North Korea's total foreign trade volume.

Although the recent accidental killings of three Chinese by the North Korean border guards have earned nation-wide ire from the people of China, the ties seemed to be strong as North Korean administration is purportedly willing to reciprocate to any Chinese call amicably. Furthermore, Pyongyang has no option other than yield to any kind of Chinese pressure, if applied, as it is hugely dependent on China in diplomatic and trading needs.

By Jose Roy

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