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N. Korea trade sinks 17.3 pct in 2021 on sanctions, pandemic

North Korea 14:07 July 14, 2022

SEOUL, July 14 (Yonhap) -- North Korea's foreign trade dipped 17.3 percent on-year to US$713 million in 2021 due to international sanctions over its nuclear weapons program and border closures to stem the spread of COVID-19, a report showed Thursday.

The reclusive country's exports fell 8.2 percent to some $82 million last year, and imports plunged 18.4 percent to around $631 million, resulting in a trade deficit of $549.4 million, according to the report from the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA).

Last year's trade deficit narrowed from the $684.4 million red ink recorded a year earlier.

The tumble in trade was blamed on international sanctions over Pyongyang's nuclear program coupled with the closure of its border with China, a key ally.

Beijing was North Korea's largest trading partner, with bilateral trade reaching $681.7 million in 2021, which was down 10.4 percent from the previous year. The amount accounted for 95.6 percent of North Korea's total foreign trade last year, up from 88.2 percent a year earlier.

Other major trading partners included Vietnam, India, Thailand and Hong Kong.

Steel was North Korea's top export item last year with its overseas shipments more than doubling to 28.93 million. Crude and other oil products were the No. 1 import good with some $379 million, which was also nearly double the amount posted a year earlier.

A KOTRA official expected North Korea's trade volume to edge up this year on an uptrend in international raw materials prices, saying a deciding factor will likely be whether Pyongyang may close its border with China due to the coronavirus pandemic.

N. Korea trade sinks 17.3 pct in 2021 on sanctions, pandemic - 1


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