Russia’s ambassador to North Korea recently met with the DPRK’s deputy minister of railways to discuss issues related to a joint-run coal transportation project, the Russian embassy in Pyongyang said on Tuesday.
Russia exports domestically-produced coal from North Korea’s Rason port, a project which has seen Russian companies invest in and upgrade the facility, as well as gain exemptions from the UN’s sectoral sanctions.
The coal shipments are transported along a purpose-built rail line from the Russian border to the North Korean port, and are overseen by a joint venture between the two countries called RasonConTrans.
“The Russian side noted the urgency to resolve the problem of restructuring the investment load of JV RasonConTrans,” the Embassy of the Russian Federation in North Korea said in a Facebook post. “Kim Yoon Hyok, in turn, focused on some of the managerial topics of the Russian-Korean partnership which is working on a joint project.”
“The parties outlined ways to resolve the existing problems of maximum utilization of the railway section of Khasan-Rason and the third pier of the port of Rajin.”
According to RasonConTrans’ website, the joint venture is split 70/30 in Russia’s favor.
The company counts the head of Rason port, a Russian Railways board member and a member of the North’s Ministry of Land and Marine Transport, among its managerial team.
The website also indicates this is the second time in recent months that representatives from the two countries have met to discuss the company’s finances.
“A working visit was made to the Ministry of Foreign Economic Relations of the DPRK for a meeting with the head of the Department for International Cooperation,” a press release from July reads.
“Several issues were discussed, primarily related to the capitalization of RasonConTrans JV’s debts, the need for transparency in the requirements of Korean environmental services for transshipment of coal at the 3rd pier of the port of Rajin, investment in port equipment, high electricity costs, and other important port issues.”
The same article also indicates that RasonConTrans sought to meet members of China’s Ministry of Commerce to discuss “speeding up the process of obtaining a permit to unload Russian coal, the next transit through the port of Rajin, to the ports of South China.”
According to a recently released UN Panel of Experts (PoE) report, shipments of Russian coal to China from the North Korean port have increased sharply since August 2016.
The assessment appears to loosely tally with RasonConTrans’s own October report, which claimed the port handled, on average, 62 percent more coal per day in the first 9 months of 2017 compared to last year.
Edited by Oliver Hotham
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Featured Image: Rajin harbour at dusk by caitriana on 2015-10-05 05:07:20