Does Washington Have a ‘Marshall Plan’ for N.Korea?
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- May 14th, 2018
Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha and her U.S. counterpart Mike Pompeo on Friday told reporters that North Korea can have “a future brimming with peace and prosperity” if it agrees to denuclearize quickly and completely.
But does the disorganized U.S. administration have a plan remotely comparable to the Marshall Plan that raised Europe from devastation after World War II?
So far it looks as if Washington trusts in market forces. “The biggest gift the U.S. can give the North is to clear the way for it to lure multinational firms to invest in it by lifting sanctions and helping it join the international community,” a diplomatic source there said.
“Of course that’s a mid- to long-term vision that can be fulfilled only after the permanent, verifiable, irreversible dismantlement of North Korea’s nuclear weapons.”
Other steps could include helping the North join the international financial system to help it lure investments and for foreign countries to give financial support, and pushing for massive infrastructure projects.
“The United States aspires to have North Korea as a close partner and not an enemy,” Pompeo said Friday about his meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on May 9. “The U.S. has often in history become good friends with former adversaries.”
Pompeo added, “If North Korea takes bold action to quickly denuclearize, the United States is prepared to work with North Korea to achieve prosperity on the par with our South Korean friends.” When he was in Pyongyang on May 9, Pompeo reportedly offered a comprehensive compensation package bringing on board South Korea, China, Japan, and the EU.
But as of 2016, the North’s gross national product was a mere 1/45 of South Korea’s.
The Marshall Plan entailed substantial direct aid to western Europe to rebuild its fundamental industries.
But perhaps times have changed and reliance on multinationals is the best way forward. “The point is that Washington carries a lot of clout in the international financial markets,” a government source here said. “Many countries are willing to invest in infrastructure and underground resources development in the North if the U.S. lifts sanctions.”
A newly formed presidential committee which will oversee inter-Korean business projects here expects to hammer out a roadmap by late this month which envisages vast infrastructure projects like gas and electricity supply routes and a railway and air route linking the two Koreas with Japan, China and Russia.
“First of all, the North should join the IMF,” said Prof. Kim Byung-yeon of Seoul National University. “Then if it also joins other international financial organizations like the World Bank, foreign countries can offer grants or loans and private capital investment will be reinvigorated in the North.”
Once the U.S. lifts sanctions, it will be possible for American businesses to push into the North Korean market, and that in turn could allay the North’s fear of Washington’s “hostile policies.”
President Moon Jae-in’s special adviser Moon Jung-in said in a seminar last month, “The North wants, as a guarantee for the regime’s survival, to see a Trump Tower built by the Taedong River and a McDonald’s restaurant opened in Pyongyang.”
That vision may not be to everyone’s taste, but for now it seems to be all that is on the cards.