Despite Calls For Ban, Foreign Companies Flock To North Korea's Trade Fair

North Korean leader Kim chairs a Central Committee of the Worker's Party meeting in Pyongyang
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un chairs a Central Committee of the Worker's Party meeting in Pyongyang, North Korea in this photo released on April 9, 2019 by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency. KCNA via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - (Photo: REUTERS)

Analysts confirmed the largest international trade fair held in North Korea this week. Hundreds of foreign companies joined the event despite the threat of sanctions from the United States.

The 22nd Pyongyang Spring International Trade Fair is expecting more than 450 foreign and local companies this week. The number of participants increased by over percent compared to last year's event.

Companies from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, China, Russia, Pakistan, Poland, and other nations participated in the event that will end on Friday. The Korean Central News Agency reported that most of the companies are selling metal, electronics, machinery, building materials, transport, public health, light industry, and food and consumer goods industry.

The Korean Central News Agency also reported that the number of respondents of the event increased from 260 in 218. This year's event gets the highest number of participants since the event started.

The 14th annual Pyongyang Autumn International Trade Fair made a record last year after more than 32 companies signed up.

According to Oliver Hotham, managing editor of NK News, the numbers tie into a lot of what they've seen recently demonstrating in North Korea, even though technically not much can go ahead under the current sanctions regime.

North Korea offered a chance to expedite trade, economic cooperation, and science and technology exchanges with the participants of the event. However, analysts believe that the sanctions imposed by the United States on North Korea over its nuclear weapons and missile programs prohibit all joint ventures and most business with North Korea. Investors said that they are preparing their investments for the time when sanctions are lifted.

The pictures circulating on social media showed that vendors are selling health supplements, flat screen televisions, handbags, air conditioners and heaters, clothes, kitchen appliances, and North Korean-brand SUVs during the event.

Colin Crooks, the British ambassador to North Korea, posted in his twitter that a wide range of sectors, and domestic products from North Korea as well as imports are showcased during the trade fair. He added that most of the foreign exhibitors were from China.

One of the photos uploaded by the Russian embassy in Pyongyang showed Alexander Matsegora, its ambassador to China, posing in a booth that sells Russian pharmaceuticals.

The success of the event contributes to the drive of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to get the sanctions lifted. There has been a rise in private markets and consumerism in North Korea under the leadership of North Korea.

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