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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.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:intecj:v:26:y:2012:i:3:p:407-430 DOI: 10.1080/10168737.2012.707872

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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. Simon Johnson & John McMillan & Christopher Woodruff, 1999. "Contract Enforcement in Transition," CESifo Working Paper Series 211, CESifo Group Munich.
    3. 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.
    4. 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.
    5. Moenius, Johannes & Berkowitz, Daniel, 2011. "Law, trade, and development," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(2), pages 451-460, November.
    6. Simon Johnson & John McMillan, 2002. "Courts and Relational Contracts," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 18(1), pages 221-277, April.
    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. McMillan, John & Woodruff, Christopher, 1999. "Dispute Prevention without Courts in Vietnam," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 15(3), pages 637-658, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. Jeffrey J. Schott & Euijin Jung & Cathleen Cimino, 2015. "An Assessment of the Korea-China Free Trade Agreement," Policy Briefs PB15-24, Peterson Institute for International Economics.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

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


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