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The Microeconomics of North--South Korean Cross-border Integration

  • Stephan Haggard
  • Marcus Noland

Economic integration between North and South Korea occurs through three modalities: traditional arm's-length trade and investment, processing on commission (POC) trade, and operations within the Kaesong Industrial Complex (KIC). In order, these three modalities are characterized by decreasing exposure of South Korean firms to North Korean policy and infrastructure. Through a survey of 200 South Korean firms operating in North Korea we find that these modalities of exchange matter greatly in terms of implied risk. For example, firms operating in the KIC are able to transact on significantly looser financial terms than those outside it. We find that direct and indirect South Korean public policy interventions influence these different modalities of exchange and thus impact entry, profitability, and sustainability of South Korean business activities in the North. In effect, the South Korean government has substituted relatively strong South Korean institutions for the relatively weak Northern ones in the KIC, thus socializing risk. As a result, the level and type of cross-border integration observed in the survey is very much a product of South Korean public policy.

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Article provided by Taylor & Francis Journals in its journal International Economic Journal.

Volume (Year): 26 (2012)
Issue (Month): 3 (September)
Pages: 407-430

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Handle: RePEc:taf:intecj:v:26:y:2012:i:3:p:407-430
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  1. James E. Anderson & Douglas Marcouiller, S.J., 1999. "Insecurity and the Pattern of Trade: An Empirical Investigation," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 418, Boston College Department of Economics, revised 03 Aug 2000.
  2. Simon Johnson & John McMillan & Christopher Woodruff, 2001. "Courts and Relational Contracts," NBER Working Papers 8572, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Simon Johnson & John McMillan & Christopher Woodruff, 1999. "Contract Enforcement in Transition," CESifo Working Paper Series 211, CESifo Group Munich.
  4. McMillan, John & Woodruff, Christopher, 1999. "Dispute Prevention without Courts in Vietnam," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 15(3), pages 637-58, October.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Moenius, Johannes & Berkowitz, Daniel, 2011. "Law, trade, and development," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(2), pages 451-460, November.
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