A regular visitor to North Korea says North Korea is angling for foreign investment with a new government body set up to attract money into the isolated country.
Glyn Ford, a former member of the European Parliament who has been to North Korea more than 20 times and is now working for the EastWest Institute think-tank, said the country appeared keen to press forward with the move.
“All the messages I’ve been getting over the past six months or more are about bringing in inward investment,” he told the Foreign Correspondents’ Club in Beijing. “There’s certainly a jockeying in Pyongyang to actually be part of the membership and the staffing of that state investment committee,” he added.
“It’s not full-blooded economic reform -- the North Koreans want to edge forward,” Ford said. “The problem they’ve got is that if they want to follow either Vietnamese or Chinese-style reform they require inward investment.”
China is already heavily involved in the North’s economy, and Ford said he expected it would only really be Chinese companies that would take advantage of Pyongyang’s move. “I was told that 80% of what’s coming in North Korea at the moment is Chinese and I’m told there’s a lot of Chinese investors nosing around in North Korea,” he said.