Felix Abt

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Felix Abt (born 15 January 1955, Switzerland) is a business affairs specialist on North Korea and Vietnam.[1]

Abt was one of the first foreign entrepreneurs[2][3] to seek to do business in contemporary North Korea, where he lived between 2002–09, and developing and operating businesses. He co-founded and directed the Pyongyang Business School, where he was involved in capacity building[4] related to business administration for senior executives of North Korean government agencies and enterprises. Abt has been featured and interviewed by numerous media, including CNN, FOX News,[5] ABC,[6] BBC,[7] Le Monde,[8] Handelsblatt,[9] Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung,[10] AFP,[11] Businessweek,[12] The Financial Times[13] and Bloomberg.com,[14][15][16][17] and has been giving advice to business associations[18][19]


Before he rejoined the ABB Group in 2002 and moved to North Korea, Felix Abt had been working from 1990 for companies in countries and regions such as Vietnam, the Middle East and Africa.[20][21][22]

In 2002, Abt was appointed resident Group Representative in North Korea by the Swiss-Swedish ABB Group, an electrical power and automation technologies company. On 19 May 2003, he signed a memorandum of understanding on the implementation of a large high-tension power grid project by ABB with North Korea's Ministry of Power and Coal Industries, in presence of the Swiss foreign minister, the Swedish ambassador to the DPRK, and the Minister of Power and Coal Industries, "in an effort to solve North Korea's serious problems in the power sector, highlighted by its worn-out generation and transmission facilities"[23][24][25]

In late 2003, Abt became an agent of several multinational corporations in business fields such as infrastructure (ABB), mining (Sandvik) and texiles (Dystar) on whose behalf he realized multi-million USD sales.[26]

Abt also acted from October 2005 to February 2009 as managing director of the Pyongsu Joint Venture Company, the first foreign-invested joint venture in the pharmaceutical field.[27][28] During this period it became the first North Korean pharmaceutical factory to reach international quality standard (called Good Manufacturing Practice or GMP) certified by the World Health Organisation and the first North Korean company to win contracts against international competitors. It also set up its own pharmacy chain in the country.

Abt was initiator, co-founder and first president of the European Business Association (EBA) in Pyongyang,[29][30][31][32][33] set up on 28 April 2005, a de facto European Chamber of Commerce.[34] Among other things it has organised the participation of European companies at trade fairs[35][36] in North Korea and has been hosting visiting delegations such as members from the European Union parliament and EU ambassadors to the DPRK.[37] As EBA's president, Abt strongly lobbied against economic sanctions by Western powers hurting legitimate foreign business activities in North Korea.[38][39]

Concurrently, Abt was co-initiator, co-sponsor and the school director of the Pyongyang Business School which has been organising regular cycles of postgraduate seminars[40] on strategic management and business administration for senior executive officers of North Korean ministries and enterprises from 2004.[41]

Together with Volker Eloesser,[who?] Abt was a co-founder/investor of the first foreign-invested software joint venture[42] by the name of Nosotek, established in 2007.[43][44][45]

Abt set up an online art gallery introducing North Korean painters and promoting North Korean fine art in 2008.[46][47][48]

In 2009 Abt left Pyongyang for Vietnam, but is still involved in North Korean issues. In 2014, He published a book about his experiences, A Capitalist in North Korea.[49]


  1. ^ "Despite Reforms, N.K. Replete with Animosity against Capitalism", Yonhap News Agency, 17 March 2004.
  2. ^ "Western Firms doing business in N. Korea", The Washington Post, 5 November 2006.
  3. ^ "An Amazing Business Pioneer in North Korea is telling us the real reasons behind the sudden and surprising pull-out of a global engineering giant from this country", interview-blog.de, 10 September 2008.
  4. ^ Swiss governmental Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), Pyongyang Business School, swiss-cooperation.admin.ch; accessed 21 September 2014.
  5. ^ "Some Western Companies initiating investment in North Korea", foxnews.com, 5 November 2006.
  6. ^ "North Korea Tour", Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 16 June 2007.
  7. ^ "Things have improved for business people", BBC interview with Felix Abt, Pyongyang, 10 October 2005.
  8. ^ Corée du Nord: La pharmacopée traditionnelle au secours d'un système de santé dégradé, Le Monde, Paris, 2 July 2007.
  9. ^ "Geschäfte machen in Pjöngjang: Der Weg zum Geldverdienen ist in Nordkorea weit", Handelsblatt, Germany, 9 March 2006.
  10. ^ "Ein Schweizer Geschäftsmann in Pjöngjang. Felix Abt stellt Aspirin für Nordkorea her und kämpft mit den Auswirkungen der Sanktionen", Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 15 May 2007.
  11. ^ «Dans les hôpitaux aussi, les Nord-Coréens manquent de presque tout», Reportage de l'AFP, 7 May 2007.
  12. ^ "North Korea's Profession: Entrepreneur", nkeconwatch.com, 11 May 2006.
  13. ^ "North Korea toys with risk and reward", The Financial Times, 1 September 2005.
  14. ^ "North Korean Propaganda Festival May Signal Shift in Policy", Bloomberg.com, 10 May 2007.
  15. ^ "North Korea Wants End to Sanctions Before It Makes Nuclear Deal", Bloomberg.com, 27 July 2007.
  16. ^ “U.S. Treasury's Levey Says Bankers Worldwide Are Shunning Iran” (and North Korea), Bloomberg.com, 15 November 2007.
  17. ^ "North Korea's Kim Allows Tentative Stirrings of Profit Motive", Bloomberg.com, 27 December 2005.
  18. ^ "Swiss Bizman Names Five Promising Business Areas for North Korea", Yonhap, 4 February 2004.
  19. ^ "North Korea - doing business in a demanding environment", Magazine Insight Asia Pacific, German Asian-Pacific Business Association, Hamburg, September 2009.
  20. ^ ABB Management Information, Appointments, ABB update 20/2002, page 5.
  21. ^ Felix Abt website: "About us", felixabt.com; accessed 21 September 2014.
  22. ^ Felix Abt profile, plaxo.com; accessed 21 September 2014.
  23. ^ NORTH KOREA THIS WEEK NO. 243: Topic of the Week, Yonhap News Agency, 22 May 2003.
  24. ^ "MOU signed between DPRK and Switzerland", Korea Central News Agency (KCNA), Pyongyang, 19 May 2003.
  25. ^ "DPRK SIGNS POWER GRID DEAL WITH ABB: Swiss Foreign Minister Visits Pyongyang", The People's Korea, Pyongyang, 19 May 2003.
  26. ^ "Making Money in Pyongyang - This is No Hallucination", Asiabizblog.com, 10 September 2008.
  27. ^ Drug company urges aid donors to buy “local”, The Korea Herald, Seoul, 30 March 2007.
  28. ^ "PyongSu Pharma J.V. Co. Pyongyang, and what it stands for. Introduction to humanitarian organisations" on YouTube
  29. ^ European Business Association (EBA), Pyongyang, North Korea
  30. ^ European Business Association (EBA), Pyongyang, Founding Ceremony on YouTube
  31. ^ "European firms in N. Korea running business association: chairman", Yonhap News Agency, 6 May 2007.
  32. ^ "Driving the streets of post-Stalinist Pyongyang is just like time travel", The Daily Telegraph, London, 11 November 2006.
  33. ^ EBA Pyongyang homepage, eba-pyongyang.org; accessed 21 September 2014.
  34. ^ "Pyongyang business group celebrates first anniversary", The Korea Herald, 28 April 2006.
  35. ^ "Strong Showing of EU Companies at 3rd Pyongyang Autumn Int'l Trade Fair", The Seoul Times, 10 October 2007.
  37. ^ "European business delegates to visit Pyongyang in October", Yonhap News Agency, 25 September 2005.
  38. ^ "Businessmen accuse U.S. of indiscriminate sanctions", The Korea Herald, Seoul, 18 September 2006.
  39. ^ "Optimism alive despite political tensions. European business group in Pyongyang sees N.K. as an attrative FDI destination", The Korea Herald, Seoul, 26 June 2006.
  40. ^ Pyongyang Business School on YouTube Slide Show, 28 July 2009.
  41. ^ "Graduates prove North Korea is now open for business"[permanent dead link], The Financial Times, 18 August 2005.
  42. ^ "North Korea - doing business in a demanding environment", Magazine Insight Asia Pacific, German Asian-Pacific Business Association, Hamburg, September 2009.
  43. ^ "August 2nd, 2009 at 10:13 am (...) He is also Vice Chairman of the board of directors of Nosotek, a co-founder, and a shareholder", nkeconwatch.com, 29 July 2009.
  44. ^ “Nosotek is the first European-invested software development & research company in the DPRK, with the head office in Pyongyang.”, Interview with Mr. Ju Jong Chol (Vice President of Nosotek), Interview Blog, Germany, 15 April 2008
  45. ^ Nosotek IT JV, Pyongyang, North Korea - the first Western IT venture! on YouTube video; accessed 21 September 2014.
  46. ^ Pyongyang-painters.com introducing renowned painters as well as new talents from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea), pyongyang-painters.com; accessed 21 September 2014.
  47. ^ North Korean art makes a show in Vietnam", nkeconwatch.com, 19 June 2009.
  48. ^ "First ever North Korean painting exhibition in Nha Trang", The Saigon Times, 10 June 2009.
  49. ^ Abt, Felix (2014). A Capitalist in North Korea: My Seven Years in the Hermit Kingdom. Tuttle Publishing. ISBN 9780804844390.