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Thursday, August 16, 2012

China, North Korea sign economic zone deal



China has signed agreements with North Korea to push forward their joint development of economic zones.

The agreements cover the setting up and operation of management committees in the zones in North Korea, electricity supply in one of them, and agricultural cooperation, China's commerce ministry said in a statement.

They were signed as part of a high-level meeting between the two sides presided over by China's commerce minister Chen Deming and Jang Song-Thaek, a top North Korean official who is the uncle of leader Kim Jong-Un.

On monday Mr Jang lead a delegation to Beijing for a third round of talks on the Hwanggumphyong and Wihwado Economic Zone and the Rason Economic Trade Zone.

North Korea and China are jointly developing the former on two islands in the estuary of the Yalu river that marks their border. Ground was broken in December.

The Rason zone is in the northeastern part of North Korea near its borders with China and Russia.

China's commerce ministry says the Hwanggumphyong and Wihwado will focus on sectors including information and tourism to "gradually become an intelligence-intensive emerging economic zone of North Korea."

The Rason zone, meanwhile, will focus on areas including raw materials, equipment manufacturing, high-tech, apparel and high-efficiency agriculture.

Rason will "gradually develop into an advanced manufacturing base for North Korea and an international logistics centre and regional tourist centre for Northeast Asia," the ministry said.

China is the only major ally as well as main trade partner of North Korea.

North Korea's reliance on China, with which it shares a border, has increased as international sanctions over its missile and nuclear programmes tighten its ability to secure international credit and trade.

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