June 1, 2001｜Korean Peninsula
President, East Asia Trade Research Board
The Fourth International Trade Fair was held in Pyongyang from May 7th to 10th. It was decided to hold the fair every May from last year, as a way of appealing to many foreign countries, however it is counted as the fourth because of the inclusion of trade fairs previously held with other socialist countries.
For the first time, the East Asia Trade Research Board became the point of contact for Japanese companies this year, gathering together participants who wanted to make presentations at the fair, and also organizing exhibits and publicity about the board itself. The members of the board and the companies went to Pyongyang together at the beginning of May. The fair held at the Three-Revolution Exhibition Center’s New Technological Innovation Center, in Sosong Ward, Pyongyang.
Besides domestic companies, businesses and groups from 12 foreign economies participated in the exhibition this year, including Japan, China, Taiwan, Thailand, Singapore, Australia, Germany, Italy, France, the UK, Russia and Cuba. Of these, Chinese companies accounted for more than half of the exhibition, with firms from Liaoning Province being particularly strongly represented. About 200 people from companies in that area came to the fair and made a concerted effort to sell their products. Looking at the scene, I came to realize the strength of economic ties with Northeast China.
Other foreign companies, especially from Europe, who might have been concerned whether their products would be purchased by the DPRK, used visual panels to publicize their products. Asian economies generally exhibited their merchandise, while Japan used equal amounts of publicity and merchandise, avoiding large exhibits as much as possible. However, these concerns aside, given that a lot of inquiries were made with regard to the exhibited merchandise and that the merchandise was sold, the prospects seem bright for future business.
It might be a reflection of the DPRK’s recent new thinking and new technology policy that in the exhibition hall, a number of visitors rushed to one particular foreign booth, displaying an interest in the video related to machine technology on show there.
Unconnected with the fair, groups of foreign companies visited the DPRK with concrete proposals at the same time. Among these were two groups of companies from the U.S., with which the DPRK often experiences political friction. They seem to have pursued the subjects of joint business ventures, contract manufacturing and the supply of equipment and materials to ports.
In addition to this, a group of ten people from Australia, including some technical experts, visited the provinces in connection with the issue of cooperation in the fields of technology and mining machinery and equipment.
I heard that a group of representatives from the EU visited the DPRK right before our visit, while an economic research group from there visited Europe.
I am amazed by the recent diplomatic offensive undertaken by the DPRK, which has already established relationships with more than 150 countries.
The effects of the DPRK’s “powerful socialist nation policy” began to emerge in 2000, while its economy, having hit rock bottom, has finally been showing an improvement thanks to food assistance from foreign countries.
I was able to get a taste of economic recovery amid the lively, merry atmosphere in Pyongyang. I believe that the DPRK will further accelerate the building of an “Our-style socialist economy” by “promoting economic diplomacy that entails an actual profit”.
[Translated by ERINA]