June 21, 2010 11:53
The OECD has warned against the widening economic and social gap between the two Koreas, suggesting a possible jump in the cost of reunification sometime in the future.
In its latest report on the Korean Peninsula, the group of wealthy countries emphasizes that there is a need to expand bilateral trade in the private sector, citing the significant difference in the GDP of South and North Korea.
In 2008, South Korea's 48.6 million populace posted a GDP of US$929 billion, while North Korea with less than half the population at 23.3 million recorded a total GDP just short of $25 billion.
The communist country's trade volume was worth $3.8 billion in the same year, a mere 0.4 percent of South Korea's $857 billion. The reclusive state had low production rates in electricity and steel but it did fairly well in annual productions of cement, fertilizer and grain.
The OECD report also raises concerns about the high infant mortality rate and the low life expectancy among women in North Korea. It found more than 14 babies out of every 1,000 are believed to have died in 1993 but the rate surged to 19 in 2008.
Forecasting that such a big difference in the quality of life between South and North Korea will likely drive up the cost of economic and social integration, the OECD urged Seoul to be more selective in its economic cooperation with Pyongyang.
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