SEOUL, Sept. 7 (Yonhap) -- North Korea's trade with China plunged 82.1 percent on-year amid prolonged border closures due to the coronavirus pandemic, the unification minister said Tuesday.
Minister Lee In-young made the remarks during a plenary session of the foreign affairs and unification committee at the National Assembly, saying that the North is focused on addressing internal challenges, including protracted sanctions, the COVID-19 pandemic and recent flood damage.
The North's trade with China from January to July this year stood at around US$86.66 million, 82.1 percent of the trade during the same period last year.
The figure is also less than one-fifteenth of the trade before the coronavirus pandemic, Lee said.
"As the inflow of grain and other necessities dropped sharply from the decrease in North Korea-China trade, it is faced with continued instability in supply and demand in rice, food and medicine," he said.
He added that the North is currently building a quarantine facility in the border area to expand the inflow of goods from outside.
North Korea has claimed to be coronavirus-free but has taken relatively swift and tough measures against the pandemic, such as imposing strict border controls since early last year.
During the session, Lee also said that his ministry will continue efforts for the early resumption of inter-Korean dialogue and seek ways to engage the North in nuclear talks in consultation with the United States.
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