HUNCHUN, in Jilin province, will sign a deal with South Korean firm Dong Ah Construction to develop port facilities in Fangchuan, at the mouth of the Tumen River. The engagement of Dong Ah for the project is likely to arouse concern from Pyongyang, as the Fangchuan port borders the territory of North Korea. According to Chinese officials, Hunchun and Dong Ah will today sign an agreement on the joint-venture project at the Jilin trade fair in Hongkong, which runs until Monday. Initial investment in the port development is expected to be more than US$100 million. The project involves the establishment of Fangchuan as a port with an annual throughput of one million tonnes of cargo. The port development is part of Hunchun's drive to improve its infrastructure facilities for economic growth. The area is gearing up to take advantage of future opportunities arising from the United Nations-sponsored development of an economic zone straddling the borders of China, Russia and North Korea. The United Nations development programme, which is to create a free trade zone on 800 square kilometres of land in the Tumen River delta, will cost an estimated $30 billion over 15 to 20 years. In a bid to improve the investment environment, Hunchun, on the Tumen River delta, is also developing roads and a railway network in addition to port facilities. Mr Wang Guimin, director of the Hunchun Foreign Trade and Economic Relations Commission, said China and Russia were building a 67-kilometre railway. The Chinese side was expected to invest some 160 million yuan (about HK$219 million at official rates) in the railway, which would be connected with Russian and North Korean railway networks, he said. Mr Wang said Hunchun was keen to attract foreign investment, adding that Japanese companies had shown interest in setting up production facilities there. He said 40 Japanese firms were scheduled to visit Hunchun in June to explore investment opportunities. At the Jilin trade fair in Hongkong, Hunchun, as part of the provincial trade delegation, is offering 58 projects for foreign participation. Five small industrial projects, worth a total of $4 million, have already been signed. Meanwhile, Mr Nan Xiangfu, vice-governor of Yanbian Korean Nationality Autonomous Prefecture in Jilin, said the prefecture, which covers five cities and three counties, was expanding trade and economic links with overseas investors.