With the leaders of North and South Korea having pledged to work for complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, it’s time to restart the Tumen River Area Development Program (TRADP) and use it as leverage to bring momentum to North Korea’s opening-up and economic development.
Since its inception in the early 1990s, the TRADP has drawn attention as a project aimed at using multilateral cooperation to develop the downstream area of the Tumen River, which runs through China, North Korea and Russia.
North Korea may be only months away from witnessing changes in its investment landscape. China and Russia have historically been North Korea’s important economic partners, so tripartite cooperation can be expected, although some difficulties remain. Such cooperation can be viewed as the first step in restarting the TRADP to promote regional economic integration.
In March, Moscow reportedly set up a working group to draw up plans for a new bridge across the Tumen River at its border with North Korea. Establishing infrastructure connections between Russia and North Korea has been a long-held objective. If the TRADP can be restarted, such projects are likely to get more financial support within the multilateral framework.
With the TRADP, investors can also leverage the economic power of South Korea, Japan and Mongolia to offer aid to North Korea to revive its ailing economy. Many countries including South Korea are paying close attention to North Korea’s economic situation in search of chances to offer aid in return for better relationships with Pyongyang. The competition among them might instill uncertainties into the fragile geopolitical landscape of Northeast Asia. A multilateral cooperation platform like the TRADP will help avoid economic aid competition among countries in the region and maintain a balance among different interest groups.
Multilateral economic cooperation is likely to ensure the smooth process of North Korea’s reform and opening-up after the UN Security Council loosens economic sanctions, and it will eventually promote bilateral economic cooperation.
Many in Northeast Asia wish to see the Tumen River Delta develop into an international logistics hub. They’re pinning their hopes on the TRADP to speed up the regional integration process and revitalize Northeast Asia’s economy.
North Korea can seize this opportunity to integrate itself into the global economy and realize an economic take-off.
– Global Times
May 21, 2018 0
The 2018 Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) annual conference is scheduled for April 8 to 11 in Boao, Hainan Province. The forum will be themed "An Open and Innovative Asia for a World of Greater Prosperity."
— The Daily Mail - People's Daily