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Integration in the absence of institutions: China–North Korea cross-border exchange


  • Haggard, Stephan
  • Lee, Jennifer
  • Noland, Marcus


Theory tells us that weak rule of law and institutions deter cross-border integration, deter investment relative to trade, and inhibit trade finance. Drawing on a survey of more than 300 Chinese enterprises that are doing or have done business in North Korea, we consider how informal institutions have addressed these problems in a setting in which rule of law and institutions are particularly weak. Given the apparent reliance on hedging strategies, the rapid growth in exchange witnessed in recent years may prove self-limiting, as the effectiveness of informal institutions erode and the risk premium rises. Institutional improvement could have significant welfare implications, affecting the volume, composition, and financial terms of cross-border exchange.

Suggested Citation

  • Haggard, Stephan & Lee, Jennifer & Noland, Marcus, 2012. "Integration in the absence of institutions: China–North Korea cross-border exchange," Journal of Asian Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(2), pages 130-145.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:asieco:v:23:y:2012:i:2:p:130-145 DOI: 10.1016/j.asieco.2011.08.005

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. John McMillan & Christopher Woodruff, 1999. "Interfirm Relationships and Informal Credit in Vietnam," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(4), pages 1285-1320.
    2. Paul R. Milgrom & Douglass C. North & Barry R. Weingast, 1990. "The Role Of Institutions In The Revival Of Trade: The Law Merchant, Private Judges, And The Champagne Fairs," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 2(1), pages 1-23, March.
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    4. Shang-Jin Wei, 2000. "How Taxing is Corruption on International Investors?," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 82(1), pages 1-11, February.
    5. Clay, Karen, 1997. "Trade, Institutions, and Credit," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 34(4), pages 495-521, October.
    6. Haggard, Stephan & Noland, Marcus, 2010. "Reform from below: Behavioral and institutional change in North Korea," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 73(2), pages 133-152, February.
    7. Haggard, Stephan & Noland, Marcus, 2009. "Famine in North Korea Redux?," Journal of Asian Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(4), pages 384-395, September.
    8. James E. Anderson & Douglas Marcouiller, 2002. "Insecurity And The Pattern Of Trade: An Empirical Investigation," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 84(2), pages 342-352, May.
    9. Marcus Noland & Stephan Haggard, 2011. "Witness to Transformation: Refugee Insights into North Korea," Peterson Institute Press: All Books, Peterson Institute for International Economics, number 4389.
    10. Greif, Avner, 1993. "Contract Enforceability and Economic Institutions in Early Trade: the Maghribi Traders' Coalition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(3), pages 525-548, June.
    11. Stephan Haggard & Marcus Noland, 2010. "The Winter of Their Discontent: Pyongyang Attacks the Market," Policy Briefs PB10-1, Peterson Institute for International Economics.
    12. Greif, Avner & Milgrom, Paul & Weingast, Barry R, 1994. "Coordination, Commitment, and Enforcement: The Case of the Merchant Guild," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(4), pages 745-776, August.
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    Cited by:

    1. Marcus Noland, 2014. "Going Beyond Economic Engagement: Why South Korea Should Press the North on Labor Standards and Practices," Policy Briefs PB14-12, Peterson Institute for International Economics.
    2. Haggard, Stephan & Noland, Marcus, 2013. "Gender in Transition: The Case of North Korea," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 51-66.
    3. Stephan Haggard & Marcus Noland, 2012. "The Microeconomics of North--South Korean Cross-border Integration," International Economic Journal, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 26(3), pages 407-430, September.
    4. Marcus Noland & Stephan Haggard, 2012. "Networks, Trust, and Trade: The Microeconomics of China–North Korea Integration," Working Paper Series WP12-8, Peterson Institute for International Economics.

    More about this item


    Economic integration; Property rights; Institutions; Transition; China; North Korea;

    JEL classification:

    • P3 - Economic Systems - - Socialist Institutions and Their Transitions
    • P33 - Economic Systems - - Socialist Institutions and Their Transitions - - - International Trade, Finance, Investment, Relations, and Aid
    • F15 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Economic Integration
    • F36 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - Financial Aspects of Economic Integration


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