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Development on Korean Peninsula Beneficial to North and South Koreas
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Economic issues are one of the focuses of the 20th inter-Korean ministerial meeting, which opened on Wednesday in Pyongyang, capital of North Korea.

Experts say that improved relations between the two Koreas and better cooperation herald an opportune chance for the peninsula's economic development, according to an article published in the daily newspaper Shanghai Securities News on Wednesday.

"The enhanced inter-Korean economic cooperation will prove to be a win-win one, with both sides benefiting from different areas," said Shen Jiru, a research fellow at the Institute of World Economics and Political Studies, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
North Korea to gain more economic benefits

The enhanced cooperation will bring more conspicuous economic benefits to North Korea, which had long received humanitarian aid, including grains and fertilizers, from South Korea until July 5, 2006, when it test-fired missiles. "Although North Korea's economy is lagging behind its Asian peers, it still has its advantages," said Shen.

"North Korea has a modern industrial basis. If properly oriented, the economy will enjoy a promising future," he added.

First, North Korea is rich in natural resources, such as minerals, which are the country's chief export.

Second, labor costs in the country stands low while national education enjoys a quite high level. These factors are expected to contribute a lot against the backdrop of North Korea's economic construction drive.

The grains, seeds, fertilizers and pesticides provided in aid from South Korea will continue to play a significant role in North Korea's efforts to overcome its economic difficulties and improve people's living standards.

South Korea to profit politically

South Korea, with its more advanced economy, will gain fewer economic advantages. Instead, it "will benefit more in politics," Shen said.

South Korea's economy, which maintained two-digit growth for two decades after its economic rise in 1960s, has been haunted by the inter-Korean relations and the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue.

In its latest rating report on South Korea published at the end of 2006, Standard Poor's Ratings Service said that geopolitical risk remained the single and most unfavorable factor in South Korea's sovereign credit rating.

The latest statistics show that South Korea's economy grew by 5 percent in 2006, the fastest pace since President Roh Moo-hyun took office in February 2003. But the figure was still lower than the average growth rate of 7 percent for the last half century.

Experts say that with the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and the resumption of the inter-Korean ministerial meeting, the political environment is sure to improve, allowing South Korea's economy to grow. Meanwhile, the rich resources and low-cost labors from North Korea could also contribute to economic development in South Korea.

Cooperation on the exploitation of mineral deposits is among the first items on the agenda of the ministerial meeting. This will help South Korea, which suffers from a shortage of raw materials.

(Xinhua News Agency March 1, 2007)

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