NK delegations need go global for economic takeoff

By Hu Weijia Source:Global Times Published: 2019/2/27 21:38:40

In a photo taken on February 17, 2019, the sun rises behind buildings in the Pyongyang skyline in North Korea. Photo: VCG

Many hope that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un will see Vietnam's economic experience as a model for his own country's development. But merely copying Vietnam's economic development is far from enough for North Korea's blueprint to open up its economy and find new ways of socialist economic development.  

What is needed for North Korea is to send more delegations of economic officials to different countries to gain experience in economic development.

Kim is said to have studied in Switzerland as a teenager. Although this has never been officially confirmed, it's still very probable that the North Korean leader has a clear understanding of how the West runs its economy. 

However, officials at various levels of the North Korean government may lack knowledge of modern economics. If Kim is serious in making economic growth the nation's top priority, he must establish a talented pool of economic professionals who understand the success of other developing countries.

Sending a delegation is the most effective way to speed up the popularization of modern economics among government officials in North Korea. Asian countries like China, South Korea, Vietnam or Singapore, or Western nations such as the US and Canada, can all be destinations for the North Korean delegations.

North Korea has unique national conditions, so it can't just copy other nations' models of economic development. The West is considering easing restrictions on North Korea but is unlikely to lift sanctions immediately. The period of time until the sanctions are lifted can be used as a chance to send various delegations to different countries and find the developmental model that best suits North Korea.

Before China embarked on reform and opening-up in 1978, many Chinese government delegations were sent to study the issue overseas. Many senior government officials who went abroad for the first time saw with their own eyes how well-developed the Western economies were. Those officials became the backbone of the nation's subsequent economic reforms and propped up the so-called "Chinese miracle" over the past 40 years.

As Kim traveled by train through China over the weekend to Vietnam for his second summit with US President Donald Trump, the train also carried a high-level North Korean delegation. Kim's Vietnam trip will popularize China's economic development and Vietnam's industrialization among North Korean officials, which is likely to have a profound impact on the country's future policy. 

The author is a reporter with the Global Times. bizopinion@globaltimes.com.cn


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