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Monday, 08 May 2017 01:16

Made in North Korea: As tougher sanctions loom, more local goods in stores

Written by  Reuters

PYONGYANG/SEOUL From carrot-flavored toothpaste and charcoal facemasks to motorcycles and solar panels, visitors to North Korea say they are seeing more and more locally made products in the isolated country's shops and supermarkets, replacing mostly Chinese imports.

As the Trump administration considers tougher economic sanctions to push the isolated country toward dismantling its weapons programs, North Korea is pursuing a dual strategy of developing both its military and economy.

The majority of consumer products in North Korea still come from China. But under leader Kim Jong Un, there's been an attempt to sell more domestically made goods, to avoid any outflow of currency and to reinforce the national ideology of juche, or self-reliance, visiting businessmen say.

There is no available data to show how much is being produced domestically. Export data from countries like China and Malaysia, which sell consumer goods to North Korea, may not be an accurate reflection.

China's commerce ministry declined to comment when asked whether China's exports to North Korea were decreasing due to an increase in locally-made products.

Visitors say that with the impetus from the top, large North Korean companies like military-controlled Air Koryo, the operator of the national airline, and the Naegohyang conglomerate have diversified into manufacturing consumer goods including cigarettes and sports clothing.

Read more at Reuters

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