DPR-Korea New Zealand

Promoting diplomatic and cultural relations between the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and New Zealand.

Economic Ties

New Zealand regulations give effect to UN Security Council resolutions imposing sanctions on the DPRK. These prohibit the supply, sale or transfer to the DPRK of certain military items, dual-use technologies, and luxury goods. Furthermore, a UN sanctions committee has designated five DPRK individuals and eight companies involved with its nuclear and missile development be subject to a travel ban and asset freeze. In January 2010 it was reported that an Auckland-registered company was used in an attempt the previous month to ship arms from North Korea to Iran. This prompted debate over New Zealand company laws, the company’s sole director pleading guilty to charges of giving false residential information to the Companies Office (she was convicted and discharged). 18 Rev Don Borrie believes the incident “encourages the popular perception of the DPRK as an irresponsible trader”, and “does not take into account the relativity of the DPRK arms trade, the quantity of arms it sells is insignificant compared to the quantity sold by the Western allies, Russia and China”. It has also been reported that North Korea attempted to purchase bus parts and beef from New Zealand (the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade was not aware of any such transaction).19

Trade has occurred but economic ties are currently minimal. By the mid-1970s several private trading arrangements existed, and the North expressed interest in further trade. The total value of New Zealand exports and re-exports to the DPRK was $36,907 from 1983 to 1987, with the cost of goods imported totalling $8,953. The value of New Zealand exports to the DPRK between 1988 and 1999 totalled $882,244, peaking in 1990. Raw hides and skins (other than fur skins) and leather comprised the highest value export. There has been no recorded trade since 1999, but New Zealand products apparently reach the country through China. The value of DPRK imports into New Zealand during the same period totalled $15,951, having peaked in 1992. Seeds, fruits, grains, plants, straw and fodder comprised the highest value import.20

Some interest in business has been expressed within both countries. A New Zealand Post visit to the North in 1991 was followed by New Zealand Dairy Board and Computer Network Design Ltd visits in 1997, while the Korea Daesong Jepal Trading Corp visited New Zealand in 1996. During the late 1990s the DPRK said it was interested in sending working gangs for the fishing, forestry and restaurant sectors. Similarly, it indicated an interest in exporting to New Zealand goods such as zinc, and has sought information about New Zealand’s agricultural technology. New Zealand investment in the garment and manufacturing sectors was welcomed, and in 2002 a DPRK delegation had discussions with the New Zealand Trade Development Board. Some New Zealand companies have examined opportunities in the DPRK, and the Society supports the ‘New Zealand Friendship Farm’. From April 1978 to March 2012, 136 DPRK residents travelled to New Zealand for business (the number peaking in 2010), and the DPRK was the main destination for 210 New Zealanders travelling for business, this peaking in 2000.21


18 ‘Time to tighten company rules’. 2010. Dominion, 12 January, p.1; and ‘Chinese warning on court case
angers judge’. 2010. Dominion, 5 November, p.4.
19 ‘Beef shipping for Kim Jong-un banned by New Zealand’. 2010. Korea Times. Accessed 19 May 2012.
Available from http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/nation/2010/11/113_75873.html, 6 November; and
personal correspondence with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, 8 November 2010.
20 Statistics New Zealand.
21 Ibid.