North Korea To Open Six New Trade Offices In Russia

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Indicates DPRK workers could be about to assist with Far East Russian infrastructure development projects as military deployment reduces number of available Russian workers

North Korea has begun preparations to open new trade offices throughout Russia, a high-ranking source in Pyongyang, according to the English language Daily NK newspaper.

The new trade offices will help expand imports of Russian wheat flour and other processed foodstuffs North Korea needs, as well as energy products such as gasoline, diesel and LPG.

North Korea’s Ministry of External Economic Relations, Construction Guidance Bureau and other agencies that have long been involved in dispatching personnel to Russia are currently selecting cadres and working-level officials to dispatch to the country. They are also vetting regions in Russia where the new offices will be opened.

North Korean authorities are planning to establish trade offices in six different areas of Russia. Regions likely to receive new offices include Vladivostok, Khabarovsk, Saint Petersburg and Moscow.

Russian-North Korean trade has been minimal in recent years as the DPRK has also been under extensive US sanctions. Now that Russia is also under heavy sanctions, there is little motivation for Russia to abide by Washington’s directives. Consequently, a resumption of trade can be expected, and especially as the border between the two countries is reopened after Covid and train services recommence next month. North Korea has traditionally supplied organic chemicals, vehicles and machinery to Russia, while Russia exports mainly energy and some agricultural items.

Although the potential trade dynamics from the Russian perspective are minimal, they make a huge difference in North Korea. However, another reason behind the Consulates opening is the engagement of North Korean workers to assist with the reconstruction and development of manufacturing and infrastructure in Russia. Military deployment is currently depriving Russia of manual labour in certain sectors, and North Korea is known to have a disciplined and well-trained workforce.

As many as 20,000- 50,000, could be invited to Russia, mainly to develop the infrastructure in the Russian Far East. Shipments of Russian oil and petroleum are probable exports to pay for North Korean labor. A perhaps surprising element of bilateral cooperation could also be tourism. With Russians no longer able to travel so easily to the EU, there are beautiful summer resort beaches at Wonsan on North Korea’s east coast.

The Wonsan-Kalma Beach Resort, North Korea

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