North Korea has established a new ministry to take care of external trade affairs by combining two committees in charge of luring foreign investment and developing special economic zones established in 2010 and 2013.
The [North] Korean Central News Agency on Wednesday reported the new ministry was established due to a decision by the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly. It did not name the specific duties of the new ministry or who leads it.
Cho Bong-hyun of the IBK Economic Research Institute here said, "The new ministry merges committees which carried out nominally different functions but in fact mostly did the same things. The latest step seems to be aimed at streamlining the process and boosting economic development."
Some experts speculated that the decision was also aimed at getting rid of some remaining followers of executed eminence grise Jang Song-taek in the committees.
Others believe that the North Korean regime is taking disciplinary action against the committees for failing to produce tangible results.