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Inter-Korean trade down 24 pct amid frozen ties: lawmaker

All Headlines 10:01 October 03, 2009

SEOUL, Oct. 3 (Yonhap) -- Trade and other commercial exchanges between the two Koreas fell more than 20 percent in the first eight months of 2009 from a year ago due to frayed inter-Korean relations, a lawmaker said Saturday.

The two Koreas' trade in the January-August period came to US$923 million, down 24 percent from the $1.22 billion tallied in the same period last year, Rep. Noh Young-min of the main opposition Democratic Party said, citing a report he received from the unification ministry.

Inter-Korean trade, which stood at $1.06 billion in 2005, later climbed to $1.8 billion in 2008, but fell substantially since the conservative President Lee Myung-bak came to power last year, according to Noh.

Since Lee was sworn into office, the Seoul government has maintained a tougher stance on the North's nuclear drive, halting state aid to the impoverished North.

Noh also pointed out that the accumulated deficit of 89 South Korean companies operating factories at a joint complex run in the North snowballed to $33.8 million following traffic restrictions imposed by the North last December.

The North lifted the cross-border traffic restriction just last month.

"It is imperative for the government to introduce measures to fundamentally resolve the current state of frozen relations," Noh said.

Currently, more than 100 South Korean firms operate with about 40,000 North Korean workers in the Kaesong complex, an outcome of the first inter-Korean summit between then South Korean President Kim Dae-jung and North Korean leader Kim Jong-il in 2000.

odissy@yna.co.kr
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