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Int'l sanctions hurting N. Korea's foreign currency earnings: unification ministry

All Headlines 19:06 September 06, 2016

SEOUL, Sept. 6 (Yonhap) -- North Korea is experiencing problems in foreign currency earnings as international sanctions are squeezing the country's trade, financial transactions and labor exports, the unification ministry said Tuesday.

"The volume of North Korea-China trade during the April-July period this year stood at US$1.76 billion, down 7 percent from the same period last year," the ministry said in a report to the parliamentary committee for diplomatic and unification affairs.

"The amount of anthracite exports reached $320 million (during the period), plunging 24.4 percent year-on-year," the report said.

The decrease in North Korea's trade volume is a result of the United Nations Security Council's Resolution 2270, the ministry noted. The unprecedentedly stringent resolution was adopted by the U.N. panel in March in response to North Korea's fourth nuclear test in January and a long-range rocket launch the following month.

The resolution is also hitting the North's export of labor forces by tightening oversight of North Koreans staying abroad.

There has been an increase in the number of overseas North Korean restaurants suspending or closing their businesses while the inflow of foreign tourists to North Korea is also dwindling, the report said. All these factors have cut North Korea's overseas foreign earnings, it noted.

"North Korea's move to pressure overseas-based workers to make up for the dwindling foreign currency earnings is causing problems and leading to defections," the ministry said.

"Foreign countries' suspension of people exchanges, cooperative projects, and visa waiver programs or closure of diplomatic missions are all leading to the further isolation of Pyongyang," the ministry said.

To overcome the crisis wrought by international sanctions, the North is tightening its social control and public mobilization.

Kim's latest focus on popular construction projects and other economy-related public events are aimed at allaying potential pubic discontent, the report said.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un showed up at a total of 44 media-publicized local events from May 10 to Sept. 1, with economic events accounting for the majority of them at 22, the ministry said.

pbr@yna.co.kr
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