Mongolia Sees Trade Boost by Using North Korean Ports
Mongolian President Tsakhia Elbegdorj said his land-locked country sees North Korea as its “nearest sea outlet” for global exports and could bring in North Korean workers to deal with labor shortages.
“We do see ample opportunities of cooperation in railways, air and auto-transport and sea-ports,” Elbegdorj told a group of Mongolian and North Korean businessmen in Pyongyang on Tuesday, according to the text of the speech posted on his website. “Mongolia is interested in importing highly qualified and organized workforce.”
Elbegdorj has met with senior North Korean officials, including Prime Minister Pak Pong Ju since he arrived in Pyongyang on Oct. 28 to become the first head of state to visit since Kim Jong Un became supreme leader in December 2011.
Mongolia, one of Asia’s fastest growing economies, adopted democracy and free elections in 1990, and moved to welcome foreign trade by offering access to its mineral riches. North Korea has been reaching out to friendly nations such as Mongolia and Indonesia as international sanctions over its nuclear arms program have limited trade and hobbled the economy. Both countries have relied heavily on their neighbor China for exports.
Tourism in North
Mongolians could travel to the North for “leisure and vacation” and help boost its tourism, Elbegdorj said. Mongolia, a nation of 2.9 million people facing land desertification, could also use North Koreans’ experience in farming, agriculture, and planting trees, he said.
In September last year, after meeting with Kim Yong Nam, visiting chief of North Korea’s parliament, Elbegdorj pledged to help the new North Korean leader pursue economic reform, offering his nation’s experience of moving toward capitalism.
In June, HBOil JSC, an oil trading and refining company in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia said it acquired a 20 percent stake in the Sungri refinery in the North’s northeastern free trade zone of Rason. Sungri has a refining capacity of 2 million tons a year and is connected to the Russian railway systems, HBOil said in a release.
North Korea and Mongolia first set up diplomatic relations in 1948, the year the North was founded. The relationship between the two countries dates back to 1939 when North Korean founder Kim Il Sung joined Mongolian-Soviet forces in fighting the Japanese, Song Byeong Gu, a professor of Mongolian studies at Dankook University outside Seoul, wrote in a paper in April.
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