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N. Korea's trade deficit with China hits record high in 2019: KITA

All News 14:17 March 19, 2020

SEOUL, March 19 (Yonhap) -- North Korea's trade deficit with China reached a fresh high in 2019, data showed Thursday, as Pyongyang's dependency on the world's No. 2 economy increased amid tightened U.N. sanctions.

North Korea's trade deficit with China reached US$2.35 billion in 2019, up from $2 billion a year earlier, according to the data compiled by the Korea International Trade Association (KITA).

North Korea's outbound shipments to China advanced 10.8 percent on-year to $216 million in 2019. Imports jumped 16.8 percent to $2.58 billion over the cited period.

N. Korea's trade deficit with China hits record high in 2019: KITA - 1

China accounted for nearly 92 percent of North Korea's combined trade in 2019, a sharp increase from 59.3 percent in 2015.

North Korea's trade deficit with China over the 2017-2019 period reached $6 billion, tripling from the $1.7 billion loss in the 2014-2016 period.

The rise of the trade deficit came as the U. N. Security Council tightened sanctions against North Korea in 2017 over its sixth nuke test. The sanctions call for, among other things, a ban on exports of North Korean textiles, a key source of revenue for the regime.

Last year, North Korea mostly imported foodstuff from China, including soybean oil, rice and flour. In return, Pyongyang exported watches, shoes and wigs, along with materials that are not subject to the sanction, such as tungsten.

"As North Korea shut down its border amid the COVID-19 epidemic, the trade between the two countries is expected to decrease this year," KITA said in its report. "But the volume will rebound as soon as the situation is settled."

In contrast, South Korea enjoyed a trade surplus of around $28 billion with China in 2019, sharply down from $55.6 billion a year earlier.


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