There are tremendous resources in the North Korea that could be exploited, said emerging markets funds manager Mark Mobius, as the North Korea supremo Kim Jong-un and US President Donald Trump made a joint statement at the Singapore summit.
“The consumption revolution will take place once the standard of living begins to move up. So, at the beginning it would be the resources and the transport – railroads, roads going up North to China and Russia,” he said.
“North Korea will be able to catch up very quickly because the educational background is good in the North. Their nuclear capability is a technological feat of amazing proportion,” he said and added, “I think they will catch up very quickly and the South will help them do that.”
The country’s population of 25 million could be a boon for investors if it were to be added to South Korea’s market of 50 million, Mobius told CNBC.
“That means a much bigger market, and to me the most exciting thing is the opportunity to have a bridge between South Korea, China and Russia. Because then you would be able to have railroads and roads going north through North Korea into these huge nations,” he said, adding “It’s a tremendous opportunity.”
According to him, the mountainous country has potentially trillions of dollars’ worth of natural resources. North Korea Resources Institute in Seoul estimated in 2013 that the country’s mineral reserves could be worth $6 trillion. However, regional analysts warn of lack of infrastructure, with one Chinese company calling its venture there a “nightmare.”
Mobius, who has been operating in emerging and frontier markets for more than three decades, is bullish about North Korea.
“We look at it first in terms of the mining capability — rare earths, oil, gas, there are tremendous resources in the North that could be exploited,” he said. “Then of course the consumption revolution will take place once the standard of living begins to move up. So I’d say in the beginning it would be the resources and the transport — railroads, roads, going up north through to China and to Russia.”
On Tuesday, Trump and North Korean leader Kim held the first ever summit between sitting leaders of the two countries and longtime adversaries. The document signed at the meeting’s conclusion promised to pursue peace and denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, though without specifying on timelines or a particular definition of “denuclearization.”