South Korean finance minister
Kwon Okyu will tell Asian financial leaders at the ADB annual
meeting today that its high time to take
notice of changes in North Korea.
We want to draw attention
to North Korea, Kwon told Emerging Markets in an
interview yesterday. North Korea is not a member of any
international organisation, and yet it is one of the poorest
countries in the world, he said.
Kwon will tell ADB governors
that change is evident in the reclusive state, but that it is
receiving very little outside support in its efforts.
North Korea recently sent
government officials overseas to get training in the market
economy, Kwon pointed out.
The US position is moving
more and more toward supporting North Korea. I want to draw ADB
members attention to this, and to stress the way that the
situation is changing.
Kwon pointed to a recent survey
by a leading investment bank suggesting that North Korea is at
a similar stage of economic development to that in China during
the late 1960s and 1970s.
An increasing proportion of
commodities are being traded via the market. A market in
foreign exchange also exists, even though at different rates
from the official market, he noted.
North Korea cannot apply for
membership of the ADB until it has first secured admission to
the IMF and the World Bank, Kwon said. But ADB members should
be aware of changes in the country, so that they can examine
ways that they can assist North Koreas potential
transition to a market economy, he suggested.
Before taking his present
position, Kwon spent some time in the Czech Republic at the
request of Korean president Roh Moo studying how the
transition from a centrally planned to a more marketised
economy was managed there. The Czech experience could have
considerable relevance for North Korea, Kwon suggested to
Emerging Markets in an earlier interview.