Korea, North Economy 2010

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Korea, North Economy 2010

Page last updated on January 19, 2010

Economy - overview:
North Korea, one of the world's most centrally directed and least open economies, faces chronic economic problems. Industrial capital stock is nearly beyond repair as a result of years of underinvestment and shortages of spare parts. Large-scale military spending draws off resources needed for investment and civilian consumption. Industrial and power output have declined in parallel from pre-1990 levels. Severe flooding in the summer of 2007 aggravated chronic food shortages caused by on-going systemic problems including a lack of arable land, collective farming practices, and persistent shortages of tractors and fuel. Large-scale international food aid deliveries have allowed the people of North Korea to escape widespread starvation since famine threatened in 1995, but the population continues to suffer from prolonged malnutrition and poor living conditions. Since 2002, the government has allowed private "farmers' markets" to begin selling a wider range of goods. It also permitted some private farming - on an experimental basis - in an effort to boost agricultural output. In October 2005, the government tried to reverse some of these policies by forbidding private sales of grains and reinstituting a centralized food rationing system. By December 2005, the government terminated most international humanitarian assistance operations in North Korea (calling instead for developmental assistance only) and restricted the activities of remaining international and non-governmental aid organizations such as the World Food Program. In May 2008, the US agreed to give 500,000 metric tons of food to North Korea via the World Food Program and US nongovernmental organizations; Pyongyang began receiving these shipments in mid-2008, but in March 2009 rejected additional US aid shipments. Firm political control remains the Communist government's overriding concern, which will likely inhibit the loosening of economic regulations. In December 2009, North Korea revalued its currency, capped the amount of North Korean won that could be exchanged for the new notes, and limited the exchange to a one-week window.

GDP (purchasing power parity):
$40 billion (2008 est.); $40 billion (2007 est.)

GDP (official exchange rate):
$27.82 billion (2009 est.)

GDP - real growth rate:
3.7% (2008 est.); -2.3% (2007 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP):
$1,800 (2008 est.) $1,800 (2007 est.)
note: data are in 2009 US dollars

GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 23.3%
industry: 43.1%
services: 33.6% (2002 est.)

Labor force:
20 million
note: estimates vary widely (2004 est.)

Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture: 37%
industry and services: 63% (2004 est.)

Unemployment rate:
NA% est.)

Population below poverty line:

Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%

revenues: $2.88 billion
expenditures: $2.98 billion (2005)

Inflation rate (consumer prices):
NA% est.)

Agriculture - products:
rice, corn, potatoes, soybeans, pulses; cattle, pigs, pork, eggs

military products; machine building, electric power, chemicals; mining (coal, iron ore, limestone, magnesite, graphite, copper, zinc, lead, and precious metals), metallurgy; textiles, food processing; tourism

Industrial production growth rate:

Electricity - production:
20.9 billion kWh (2007 est.)

Electricity - consumption:
17.49 billion kWh (2007 est.)

Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2008 est.)

Electricity - imports:
0 kWh (2008 est.)

Oil - production:
121 bbl/day (2008 est.)

Oil - consumption:
16,000 bbl/day (2008 est.)

Oil - exports:
0 bbl/day (2007 est.)

Oil - imports:
13,890 bbl/day (2007 est.)

Oil - proved reserves:
0 bbl

Natural gas - production:
0 cu m (2008 est.)

Natural gas - consumption:
0 cu m (2008 est.)

Natural gas - exports:
0 cu m (2008 est.)

Natural gas - imports:
0 cu m (2008 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves:
0 cu m (1 January 2009 est.)

$2.062 billion (2008 est.); $1.684 billion (2007)

Exports - commodities:
minerals, metallurgical products, manufactures (including armaments), textiles, agricultural and fishery products

Exports - partners:
South Korea 45%, China 35%, India 5% (2008)

$3.574 billion (2008 est.)

$3.055 billion (2006)

Imports - commodities:
petroleum, coking coal, machinery and equipment, textiles, grain

Imports - partners:
China 46%, South Korea 34%, Thailand 6%, Russia 4% (2008)

Debt - external:
$12.5 billion (2001 est.)

Exchange rates:
North Korean won (KPW) per US dollar (market rate) - 3,630 (December 2008), 3,400 (October 2008)

North Korean won (KPW) per US dollar (official rate) - 140 (2007), 141 (2006), 170 (December 2004)

NOTE: The information regarding Korea, North on this page is re-published from the 2010 World Fact Book of the United States Central Intelligence Agency. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Korea, North Economy 2010 information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Korea, North Economy 2010 should be addressed to the CIA.

This page was last modified 09-Feb-10
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