On Saturday, the North Korean authorities launched their latest attempt to sell goods abroad and attract investors with the opening of the ‘2012 Chosun-China Economic, Trade, Culture and Tourism Exhibition’ in Dandong.
A source from Dandong described the unusually vibrant scene to Daily NK yesterday, saying, “The North Korean authorities have mobilized companies from Pyongyang and from here in China to sell goods and pitch for joint venture opportunities. There are loads of people; it’s standing room only.”
The source added that North Korean companies attending the event are pushing very hard to attract investment; notably, by distributing their own promotional literature expounding upon the given company’s superior virtues and providing exact contact details for follow-up inquiries. It is not hard to find meetings continuing in local North Korean eateries, as the North Korean side tries to woo potential sources of capital.
Chinese companies are keen to hear about the joint venture opportunities available, the source also said; and with most of the larger enterprises from China’s three northeastern provinces sending representatives to Dandong for the event, which runs until the 16th, most of the city’s hotels are apparently full to bursting.
However, due to past and present cases of lip service being paid to contractual obligations by North Korean companies whose only goal has been to attract funding rather than build business, Chinese representatives are still very cautious about actually signing on the dotted line.
One such representative from a Dandong-based company with a 10-year history of doing business with North Korea pointed out to Daily NK, “We have seen countless examples of companies making contracts and then there being little contact between the partners thereafter. Unbelievably, one manager I tried some minerals business with last year just changed the name of the company and came back again this year.”
Nevertheless, the North Korean authorities are trying hard. It is not only interpreters with a lot of experience who been dispatched to the exhibition space; the beautiful servers from the popular local restaurant ‘Pyongyang Koryeogwan’ have been sent to advertize various products and attract would-be customers as well. In addition, the popular ‘Mansudae Art Troupe’ is in the city giving concerts.