Mon, May 14, 2012 - Page 5 News List

N Korea taking lessons from Singapore

AP, SEOUL

In recent years, the North has developed two special economic zones, in Rason in the northeast and Hwanggumphyong in the northwest, and is looking to Singapore for guidance, analysts said.

“Since the 1990s, North Korea has consistently said that it sees Singapore as a model for its special economic zones,” said Lim Soo-ho, a researcher at Samsung Economic Research Institute in Seoul.

Accompanying Kim Yong-nam is Ri Kwang-gun, who heads the North Korean Joint Venture and Investment Commission in charge of attracting foreign investment.

Pyongyang could also try to sell itself to manufacturers looking for cheap labor as well as boost exports of its consumer products, analysts said.

The other economic official in the delegation is North Korean Minister of Light Industry An Jong-su, KCNA said.

Meanwhile, South Korea is set to negotiate with China on a free trade agreement that could lift tariffs on products made in North Korea’s special economic zones, making investment in North Korea more favorable.

“North Korea has the cheapest labor in the world, less than half of China’s [rates],” Lim said. “Foreign investors can manufacture goods in North Korea and export them to China.”

Indonesia could provide guidance on how North Korea might exploit mineral resources that the North Korea Resources Institute in Seoul estimates are worth more than US$10 trillion, analysts said.

Indonesia has had strong ties with North Korea since 1964. In 1965, when late North Korean founder Kim Il-sung paid Indonesia a visit, then-Indonesia president Sukarno presented him with an orchid dubbed the Kimilsungia.

On Tuesday, North Korean and Indonesian officials signed an agreement to share news stories, photographs, video and TV footage, and eventually swap journalists, the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.

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