North Korea has more than sanctions to overcome for foreign investment: report
24 Jun 2019

A historic visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping this week may have bolstered Kim Jong Un’s hopes that economic relief may be coming soon, but a new report reveals North Korea’s road to international investment may be blocked by more than sanctions.

While there are no signs that international sanctions imposed on North Korea over its nuclear weapons will be officially lifted soon, researchers at a U.S.-based think tank say North Korea has more fundamental problems to overcome if it wants access to foreign finance.

“Although an easing of sanctions imposed on the North because of its nuclear weapons program is necessary, it is not sufficient for the North to gain full access to the global capital market,” said a yet-to-be published report by The Korea Society seen by Reuters.

“Concentric layers of U.S. and international financial prohibitions, including concerns over money laundering and the integrity of North Korea’s regulatory system, would have to be peeled away,” the report said.

U.S. President Donald Trump has held out massive economic stimulus as an incentive for North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons.

North Korea has rejected the idea of trading its arsenal for money, but leader Kim has embarked on a campaign to jumpstart the country’s economy.

Xi’s visit to Pyongyang on Thursday and Friday raised the prospect of additional economic ties between North Korea and China, but many roadblocks remain.

Even if sanctions are eventually eased, North Korea’s government still keeps a tight hold on much of the economy.

Transparency International ranks North Korea as one of the most corrupt countries in the world, and there are few signs that Kim is moving to substantively loosen Pyongyang’s control.

“The lack of willingness to reform systemically is a constraint more fundamental than roadblocks posed by U.N. Security Council and U.S. sanctions,” the Korea Society report said.

By Josh Smith, Reuters, 21 June 2019

Read more at Reuters

Photo: Bjørn Christian Tørrissen [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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