North Korea’s Trade Deficit with China Marked the Highest Last
China accounts for 91.7% of North Korea’s trade… as the
trade between North Korea and China increases, the trade deficit gets worse -
Last year, North Korea’s
trade deficit with China was the highest in history.
According to the “2019 North Korea-China Trade Trends and Implications” issued by the Korea International Trade Association (Chairman: Kim
Young-ju) on March 20th, North Korea's exports last year to China
increased 10.8 percent to 216 million dollars year-on-year, and its imports
jumped 16.8 percent to 2.589 billion dollars. Annual trade amount was 2.85
billion dollars, increased by 16.3 percent from 2018.
North Korea's trade deficit
with China recorded 6.072 billion dollars over the past three years from 2017,
reaching 3.6 times the cumulative amount of 1.702 billion dollars of the three
years (2014-2016) before the U.N. sanctions were strengthened.
When it comes to last year's
monthly trade between North Korea and China, in January and February, it
decreased by 13 percent and 4.8 percent, respectively, compared to the same
month of the previous year, but it surged by 37.9 percent in March and the
upward trend continued until the end of the year.
The main items that North
Korea imported from China were food ingredients such as soybean oil, rice and
wheat flour, plastic materials like flooring materials, and raw materials such
as watch parts and fabrics for assembling and processing. Exports to China
mainly consisted of the goods such as watches and clocks, wigs, laboratory
equipment and shoes, and minerals such as tungsten and molybdenum that are not
barred by the U.N. sanctions.
The report stated, “China is the largest trading partner of North Korea, accounting for
91.7 percent of the country’s foreign trade. An increase in trade volume
between North Korea and China actually means an increase in the total trade of
North Korea,” and elaborated, “However,
since the international community's sanctions on North Korea are focused on
restraining North Korea's exports, that is, North Korea's means of acquiring
foreign currency, the more North Korea trade increases, the more North Korea's
trade deficit is intensified."
An official at the Korea
International Trade Association said, “North Korea's
trade with China this year will temporarily decline as North Korea also has
shut down its border with China due to the outbreak of the COVID-19, but the
trade will surge again when the situation calms down.”
The official also forecast, “However, if North Korea's
shortage of foreign currency intensifies as the country is prohibited to
dispatch labors to other countries and its tourism industry is struggling due
to the heavy sanctions, demand for international cooperation including
inter-Korean exchange and cooperation may rise.”