The North Korean Economy, August 2019: Why China Will Continue to Dominate

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Throughout the diplomatic process between South and North Korea and the Trump administration’s nuclear diplomacy with Pyongyang, there has been an expectation that should sanctions be relaxed or removed, North Korea would begin to attract investments from all over the globe. US President Donald Trump has consciously fueled these expectations, depicting trade with the US as one of the main carrots for North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons. South Korean President Moon Jae-in regards massively increased trade with North Korea as a central driver of South Korea’s future economic growth, claiming in early August that economic cooperation between the two Koreas could let them overtake Japan in regional economic dominance. Theoretically, North Korea could attract a diverse range of investors if its relations with the United States and South Korea were normalized and sanctions were removed. Realistically, however, it is far more likely that China’s economic domination over North Korea would continue, and even increase, in such a scenario.

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