Editors Note: This interview was conducted prior to North Korea’s fourth nuclear test and subsequent rocket launch
North Korea may not seem the best candidate for a business partner.
In fact, it has many issues businessmen may find uninviting —inconvenient immigration control, rigid party bureaucracy and global notoriety. Yet none of them have deterred a Swiss businessman from doing business there.
Daniel Marbot does a variety of business with North Korea. His main area of business lies within textiles, especially silk, but he also discussed introducing German power generators into North Korea. While sitting down with NK Pro in Basel, he received an email from the North Korean embassy in Bern.
“Oh, it’s about ice cream business,” Marbot said.
From silk and power generators to ice cream, North Koreans seem to trust him very much. But how did he manage to gain their trust? And how did he develop such constructive relations with the business community there?
Surprisingly, the answer is not that complicated.
“We contacted the North Korean embassy in Switzerland (three years ago),” Marbot said. “We had a positive response.”
Turns out that in some cases, doing business with North Korea is not so different from anywhere else in the world, a truism we tend to forget. Establishing trust through sincerity and diligence is all it takes. That, and a little bit more patience considering we are dealing with the “Hermit Kingdom,” of which Western media never get tired of throwing out “rare glimpses.”
Like practically every businessmen looking to North Korea, lower labor costs were the first thing that drew his eyes toward North Korea.
“(Offshoring to China) has gone very well for 20 years but now the Chinese (labor) became more expensive,” Marbot said. “We had to find another way.”
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Main picture: Factory in Rason, file photo | NK News