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North Korea may be preparing to open up, and this may be the only opportunity for its economy

Although the official announcement remains pending, after fifteen months of lockdown due to the Covid-19 border shutdown, there are mounting signs that the shared border between North Korea and China will soon reopen. This could help strengthen the stagnant economy of a rogue state withdrawing from the world.

In recent months, North Korea has reached an economic low. International sanctions imposed as a result of the nuclear weapons program, as well as border closures due to the Coronavirus pandemic, have caused enormous damage to a country that is already suffering from a shaky economy. In the first week of April, North Korean leader Kim Jongun did it himself Complained; We are in the worst situation ever, facing an unprecedented number of challenges. ”

However, recently leaked news about the opening could be encouraging for the country. In March, North Korea began building clearance facilities near the border crossings, which are expected to be used when the border with China reopens. China is the country’s most important trading partner.

Although not officially announced yet, but some observers to me In terms of shipping, North Korea has, in fact, opened the transit capacity for a few weeks now. Freight trains crossed the border for the first time since the start of the epidemic in early April, and Chinese products are finally making a comeback in Pyongyang’s grocery stores. Several times a day discoverer Trucks can also cross the new bridge over the Gallo River. The three-kilometer bridge crosses the Gallo River between Dandong, China, and Sinuiju, North Korea. North Korea and China in October 2009 agreed And build the bridge, which could be the successor to the Sino-Korean Friendship Bridge, which is more than 80 years old. China has invested $ 350 million (105 billion HUF) in the four-track facility, with the North Korean part awaiting delivery so far. See Origo for details In this article Wrote.

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The bridge over the Gallo River has not been completed since 2011 due to the North Korean side, but traffic may finally start on it this yearSource: Agence France Press / Chandan Khanna

It is also possible to resume “official smuggling”

Since the start of the Coronavirus epidemic in January 2020, the authorities have officially stopped rail and ship cargo shipments from China, fearing the virus will spread to North Korea. Beijing then agreed to close the 880-mile Sino-Korean border in one step. However, this has proven disastrous for an economy that has already been restricted by the United Nations and US trade sanctions.

AsiaPress Reports to me In 2020, North Korea’s annual trade with China decreased by 80.7%. This has caused shortages of food and basic products not only in the poor areas of the country but also in the capital. Many of those who have so far made a living from trade in goods from China, including cross-border smugglers and smugglers, have been extremely sensitive to developments over the past year. The so-called “official smuggling” by state-owned companies, which was used to circumvent international sanctions, also stopped suddenly, but with the resumption of the merchant ships, the smuggled goods returned to the ship again.

There is no food, so with the onset of the planting season, we especially urge them to open

In the new agricultural season, the demand for food supplies as well as the production of agricultural crops is what prompts the North Korean government to continue trading. The recent period has been such a disastrous planting that the producers will definitely need to import the seeds as well. So is Orego Previously writtenAlthough Pyongyang is not officially recognized, the country is increasingly concerned about meeting the population’s nutritional needs from domestic sources. Food shortages are already affecting children and hunger may also be present in some parts of the country.

According to satellite images, large quantities of goods were waiting in the Chinese border city of Dandong these days. AsiaPress, based in Osaka, and its confidential sources communicating with editors via contraband Chinese cell phones, Last month, Pyongyang imported $ 12.97 million worth of goods, most of which were commodities such as fertilizers, pesticides and agricultural machinery. This is a significant increase compared to February 2021, when North Korea imported small goods worth $ 3,000 (900,000 forint) from the continent.

There is a high possibility that trade between North Korea and China will expand significantly after the official opening of the border. NK Daily Report to me North Korea customs officials will be able to continue their work from April 20. First, businesses, and then beginning of May, will resume trade between individuals.

Tourists walk along the Chinese side of the border in DandongSource: Agence France-Presse / Yomiuri / Koki Kataoka

Slow growth is expected

Fitch Solutions is a financial analysis firm to me North Korea’s economy will barely grow in 2021. The country is likely to experience its worst period in decades as it continues to grapple with epidemics, international sanctions, and a lack of trade with China. In its latest report, Fitch cut the country’s economic growth forecast for the Pyongyang regime, dominated by previous expectations of 2.5 percent, to 0.5 percent this year. This is mainly due to the fact that restrictions imposed on North Korea’s trade with China continued even in the first two months of 2021.

Regardless of the opening news, there is still a lot of secrecy about the true state of the epidemic, and there is also a lot of speculation about the true number of Covid-19 victims in North Korea.

Pyongyang still does not acknowledge the existence of the Coronavirus in the country or that an epidemic has developed, although observers say epidemic measures are not just related to prevention – there could be a very dangerous epidemic in several parts of the country. It is believed that more information about actual conditions could be released on a larger scale in Pyongyang Opens State and providing wider access for humanitarian workers and members of diplomatic missions to perform their duties.