North Korea attracted a huge investment in its cement plant from a big Egyptian construction company, one of the largest private investments in the reclusive country amid reconciliatory moves between Pyongyang and Washington and progress towards the North’s denuclearization. The (North) Korean Central News Agency on July 16 said the Pyongyang Myongdang Trading Corporation (PMTC) of the DPRK and the Orascom Construction Industries (OCI) of Egypt discussed the issue of collaboration and investment in the field of cement before making public a joint communique in Pyongyang on July 13.

“Both sides signed Joint Venture Agreement for the purpose of establishing partnership to modernize, renovate, upgrade and operate the Sangwon Cement Complex,” the KCNA said. Western media outlets like the Wall Street Journal said the Egyptian firm, one of the world’s biggest construction companies, is acquiring a 50-percent stake worth as much as US$150 million in the state-owned plant, a unit of the PMTC.

The Orascom side said it will boost the annual productive capacity of the Sangwon Cement Complex and that it intends to invest in the Rason Economic and Trade Zone, mineral production, power plants, ports and other sectors, the North’s news outlet said. Rason, bordering Russia and China, is one of the North’s special economic zones, while the Sangwon complex is located at Sangwon county, southeast Pyongyang.

Earlier, a communique on cooperation between the (North) Korea Post and Telecommunication Corporation and Orascom Telecom Holding, a sister company of the OCI, was concluded on Jan. 19. The delegation of Orascom Telecom Holding also paid a courtesy call on the North’s titular head of state Kim Yong-nam, concurrently president of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly, on March 1.

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