About the Author
Dagyum Ji is a senior NK News correspondent based in Seoul. She previously worked for Reuters TV.
Seoul is seeking shortcuts to allow North Korea to receive funding and support from International Financial Institutions (IFIs), the South Korean finance minister said on Wednesday.
In a radio interview, Minister Kim Dong-yeon said he had shared his views on potential inter-Korean economic cooperation with heads of several IFIs in the aftermath of last month’s inter-Korean summit.
Kim, who also serves as Deputy Prime Minister, said President of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) Suma Chakrabarti had called him and expressed a willingness to support DPRK-based projects in his interview with tbs FM’s radio show “Kim Eo Jun’s News Factory.”
“The organization deals with issues in Europe, and therefore it has a wide range of experience of supporting many countries which underwent transition including Russia…,” Kim said. “He called me first and said that ‘we have the capacity to engage in and support North Korea with know-how should the country open its markets or reform [its economic structure].’”
The finance minister said Pyongyang would need to meet specific preconditions before receiving IFI funds, however.
North Korea becoming a member of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), for example, would take around three years, and would require an in-depth review of the country’s economic situation.
“There are other methods and cases without [meeting the preconditions], we are considering it simultaneously,” Kim said, citing the World Bank as one body which provides technical assistance for non-member states. “We have been preparing a lot.”
Though last month’s Panmunjom agreement did not make specific pledges on economic cooperation, it did see the two Koreas agree “to actively implement the projects previously agreed in the 2007 October 4 Declaration, in order to promote balanced economic growth and co-prosperity of the nation.”
“There are high chances that issues related to economic cooperation will be raised in the wake of the South-North Korea summit: various preparations are underway internally,” Minister Kim said on Wednesday.
The finance minister, however, said the government would push forward with economic projects “in a calm and orderly way” on the bilateral and international level to ensure sanctions against the DPRK were not violated.
Consensus and agreement from the international community, he said, were required before inter-Korean economic cooperation could be resumed.
The Panmunjom Declaration’s pledge to work towards “the connection and modernization of the railways and roads on the eastern transportation corridor as well as between Seoul and Sinuiju for their utilization,” he said, would need to be seen as a long-term goal.
The minister, however, said the Moon administration and the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Transport (MOLIT) had “put the project of railway and others under review” and were waiting for more favorable conditions.
Wednesday also saw Kim neither confirm or deny local media reports that President Moon had during his meeting with Kim Jong Un last month gifted the North Korean leader a USB drive containing his plans for a “new economic map of the Korean peninsula.”
“As this happened between the two leaders, it is inappropriate for me to make the mention,” finance minister Kim said.
Edited by Oliver Hotham
Featured Image: Ministry of Strategy and Finance