Investors Won't Exactly Be Rushing To Pyongyang

A diplomatic opening, yes. A business opportunity--not yet

By North Korea's abysmal economic standards, the past year hasn't been all that bad. After nine straight years of contraction, during which annual output shrank by one-third, to just $12.6 billion, the economy expanded by an estimated 3% in 1999. The main reason: a flood of foreign donations aimed at saving the lives of hundreds of thousands of North Koreans from famine, in reward for Pyongyang's promise to freeze its nuclear arms program. The inflow of $625 million in aid actually outpaced exports as a source of hard currency.

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