DPRK attracts investors at first China-DPRK expo

Source:Xinhua Published: 2012-10-16 17:07:18

A 500-strong delegation from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) that attended the first China-DPRK expo impressed Chinese companies in the way they traded and carried out cultural exchanges.

The five-day 2012 China-DPRK Economic, Trade, Culture and Tourism Expo, held in the border city of Dandong, concluded on Tuesday with 72 agreements of cooperation intent signed. They have a combined value of 1.26 billion US dollars.

Pan Shuang, vice mayor of Dandong, said more than 6,000 Chinese and overseas people from over 20 countries and regions exhibited at and attended the expo. There were talks on 200 projects.

He said the projects related to industries ranging from aquaculture, clothes manufacturing, chemical production, wind power generation equipment, iron steel production to hotel construction.

At the exhibition, the DPRK delegation exhibited ginseng products, food specialties, hand-made Hanbok, a traditional Korean costume, as well as mining and machinery equipment.

Ri Yong Chol, sales manager of Korea Roksan General Trading Corp., which is a ginseng supplier, said "I came to look for Chinese friends and potential business partners. Our company is also seeking opportunities to set up a subsidiary in China to get better access to the Chinese market."

A Korean girl wearing brightly-colored Hanbok and traditional ornaments was selling costumes. "Our factory can make 20 such hand-made Hanboks a day. The clothes are for important occasions with exquisite workmanship and high-quality material," she said.

Liu Songyu, chairman of a Korean garment firm from Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture of Jilin Province, was interested in the business.

"Chinese labor costs have been rising fast. In Yanbian, a garment-factory worker's salary has risen to 2,000 yuan (319 US dollars) a month. While, if the company had a factory in DPRK, it would save a considerable amount on labor costs. I would give a serious thought to that," he said.

Yanbian is a heavily Korean ethnic populated region in China, where people also wear Hanbok during important occasions.

Elsewhere, Huang Zijun, an authorized dealer of Total Petrochemcial, was overwhelmed to obtain 20 orders from the DPRK delegation during the expo.

"I felt their enthusiasm in promoting business at the expo. I believe the DPRK is a big market for petrochemical products like lubricating oil," he said.

Lyu Chao, head of the Korean Study of Liaoning Provincial Academy of Social Sciences, said that the expo was an unprecedented bilateral economic and trade exchange platform. Both countries conducted exchanges in a "pragmatic, active and open" way.

"The DPRK delegation composed of economic, trade, culture and tourism officials and firms were well prepared and ambitious in seeking cooperation opportunities at the expo," he said.

He said the DPRK sent an important signal that the country was keen on drawing investment to beef up its industries and attracting Chinese tourists to boost its tertiary sector.

China and the DPRK have been ramping up a series of joint developments in recent years. The two sides agreed in 2010 to build a new cross-border bridge over the Yalu River. In June last year, the DPRK gave a green light to the joint development project of Hwanggumpyong and Wihwa islands zone with China.

"These progressing projects are signs that the DPRK is poised to carry out economic reforms," he said.

China is DPRK's biggest trade partner. Statistics show that bilateral trade volume went up 62.4 percent year on year to 5.64 billion US dollars last year.

The border city of Dandong has taken up 70 percent of China's trade with the DPRK.

Vice mayor Pan Shuang said more than 400 companies from 12 industries attended the expo, which showed that Chinese firms have a strong interest in doing business in the DPRK or with its firms.

Jin Shunji, general manager of the Dandong Branch of China International Travel Service Ltd., said it had received an increasing number of tourist groups from the DPRK in recent years, many from government and trade agencies on business trips to Chinese cities.

Despite the promising business prospects, some Chinese entrepreneurs are still concerned about DPRK's business environment.

"There are still too many unpredictable factors. I would rather wait and see to decide whether to do real business with DPRK firms," said Sun Lihong, general manager of a Shenyang-based refrigerator maker.

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