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North’s exports to China fall 62%

Beijing’s suspension of coal imports for 2017 starts to have impact
Nov 25,2017
China’s trade with North Korea is declining as a result of international sanction, and exports from the North to China hit $90.75 million in October, down 62 percent from $238.37 million in the same period the previous year.

Exports to China were down some 38 percent from September’s $145.8 million, according to data released by China’s General Administration of Customs Thursday.

October was the eighth month in a row of decreases in exports from North Korea to China, and was the lowest level on government records since January 2014.

Total trade between China and North Korea slumped to $334.9 million in October, the lowest level since February and a decrease of some 20 percent from September. That figure represents a 36 percent decline from $525.2 million in October 2016.

China’s exports to North Korea dropped nearly 15 percent to $244.2 million in October from $286.9 million a year earlier, and down 8 percent from $266.4 million in September. These figures are also the weakest since February.

China announced in February it would ban coal imports from North Korea through the rest of this year, which has slowed trade between the two countries.

The latest figures may be a reflection of UN Security Council sanctions taking a toll on North Korea’s trade with its chief trading partner, possibly choking off revenue funneled into its nuclear and missile weapons programs.

UN Security Council Resolution 2371 unanimously adopted on Aug. 5 imposed a total ban on coal trade with North Korea, the country’s main export, in response to Pyongyang’s two intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) launches in July, and also banned exports of iron, iron ore, lead, lead ore and seafood.

These UN penalties came into effect on Sept. 5.

The council further adopted Resolution 2375 on Sept. 11, following North Korea’s sixth nuclear test on Sept. 3, which capped exports of crude oil and refined petroleum products to the country, banned its textile exports and barred authorization of new work permits for North Korean workers.

At that time, the United States said over 90 percent of North Korea’s publicly reported exports of $2.7 billion in 2016 were banned through the latest resolutions.

China’s Commerce Ministry on Sept. 23 announced that restrictions on refined petroleum products to North Korea would kick off at the start of October.

U.S. President Donald Trump in a visit to Beijing earlier this month to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping urged the country to do more to pressure North Korea, and Washington is in the process of levying more unilateral sanctions on the regime.

A day after adding North Korea back onto its list of state sponsors of terrorism, the U.S. Treasury Department on Tuesday announced sanctions on one Chinese individual and 13 Chinese and North Korean trading and shipping companies, as well as North Korea-flagged vessels, that are accused of illicitly funding Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs. More sanctions are expected to be announced by Washington in the coming week.

But Lu Kang, a spokesman of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, lashed out at the latest U.S. sanctions at a briefing Wednesday. “We always firmly oppose the wrong act of imposing unilateral sanctions and ‘long-arm jurisdiction’ by any country in accordance with its own law,” he said.

BY SARAH KIM [kim.sarah@joongang.co.kr]