Español Representatives from the Central Bank of Venezuela and North Korea met this week to “exchange ideas in the defense and construction of socialism.” The two totalitarian nations held meetings in the capital of Caracas to discuss “political, economic and social sovereignty,” as well as various “military and interventionist threats” from the United States government.
“We must learn from the socio-productive experience of North Korea,” Central Bank Director José Khan Fernández said. “… We as a people can begin a a re-industrialization training process to improve the nation’s economy and depend less on foreign hegemonic countries … We have the necessary human resources, land and capital.”
— Banco Central de Venezuela (@BCV_ORG_VE) November 30, 2017
Official state media sources reported that “North Korea offered alternatives for Venezuela to avoid imperial aggression.” Both countries have been sanctioned by the United States for repeatedly violating human rights and threatening military conflict.
North Korea does not publish official statistics about its economy, a practice that Venezuela has adapted in recent years. There are no real figures of inflation, production, scarcity or GDP. North Korea’s primary economic partner has always been China, but Venezuela and Russia have also come to rely on their partnerships with China.
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According to Media Lab Macro, the North Korean economy depends mainly on coal briquettes, which in 2015 comprised 34 percent of the country’s exports, followed by textile products such as coats and suits, as well as refined oil and soybean oil.
However, the Venezuelan economy has stagnated due to depleted oil supplies. Inflation rates in the country are the highest in the world, while its average wage is the lowest.
According to El País, the growth of North Korea’s economy is due to a plan giving companies more freedom to seek customers and suppliers, and for farmers to make use of their own surplus. However, Venezuela refuses to give that freedom to its entrepreneurs, as the production and distribution of food is completely controlled by the regime. Additionally, prices are regulated by the state, leading to minimal profit and growing scarcity.
The director of the South Korean intelligence service, Lee Byung-ho reportedly argued that at least 40 percent of North Korea’s population is now engaged in some kind of private enterprise. For this reason, Venezuela would have to allow for the creation of private companies and reduce regulations that prevent the private sector from expanding.
Venezuela came in last out of 159 countries in the 2017 Economic Freedom index. The report, made by Canada’s Fraser Institute, revealed that Venezuela obtained the worst score on every section of the index. The health of its currency proved to be the worst out of all sections evaluated.
Unfortunately, the index could not include currency evaluations for North Korea or Cuba due to a lack of data.