Despite the reclusive reputation of North Korea with regards to its trade and relations with the outside world, the DPRK is involved in far more trade and business than most realize (fraternal trade actually being part of the state ideology). It should also not be ignored that during Soviet times North Korea was even a member of Comecon. It is with this mind that trade fairs have and do pay an integral role in the expanding of the North Korean economy.
Participation in trade fairs, much like other elements of the country, is technically open to anyone, but in reality needs a local inviting entity and for the goods that are being traded to meet North Korean “standards”. Advertising materials and literature also has to be approved before being imported into the country.
Pyongyang Spring International Trade Fair
Date – Yearly, mid-May
Focus – Consumer goods for import and export. The higher end economy of Pyongyang citizens.
Notes – This is one of the major trade fairs held in the country. In 2014 it was noted that it had doubled in size from the previous year, with local people making many transactions, all in hard currency (Euro, Dollar, RMB). This fair is perfect for people looking to explore the consumer goods market in the DPRK, or to potentially showcase their own goods. Various consumer goods such as the locally made computer tablet have been premiered at this event.
Rason International Trade Fair
Date – Yearly mid to late August
Focus – Consumer goods for the internal market. Vehicles and electronics for export. Economic issues and opportunities related specifically to investment in the Rason Special Econmic Zone (the first in the country)
Notes – This the main trade fair for the main, and first economic zone in the DPRK. Lots of consumer goods sold to local entrepreneurs and regular citizens. High focus on vehicles and farm equipment for export. Dominant Chinese and to a lesser extent Russian presence.
Pyongyang Autumn International Trade Fair
Date – Yearly, mid to end of September
Focus – International trade agreements. Products created by the various foreign trade companies present in the DPRK. Showcasing international products for purchase by the DPRK.
Notes – The Autumn International Trade Fair is generally considered the most important for big and serious investors. Participation has greatly increased over the last 5 years and in 2014 there were products and delegations from a number of countries including Germany, Russia, Malaysia, Mongolia, Singapore, China, Cuba, Italy and Taipei of China. This fair is an extremely unique experience to see how things work in country and to meet relevant people that matter.