China-North Korea Trade Hits Highest Level in Decade


SEOUL, July 20 (Yonhap) — China’s foreign trade with North Korea achieved its highest level since Kim Jong-un assumed control of the reclusive nation 10 years ago, according to a report released Thursday.

Beijing’s commerce with Pyongyang totaled $1.53 billion in 2022, a 125 percent expansion from the year before, the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA) revealed.

This accounted for 96.7 percent of North Korea’s total trade, up from 95.6 percent in 2021.

Exports amounted to $134 million and imports totaled $1.398 billion, creating a trade deficit of $1.27 billion, compared to a $565 million shortfall the year before.

The considerable increase in China’s trade with its northern neighbor is attributed to the easing of COVID-19 restrictions and increased railway trade between the two countries.

Vietnam was second with 1 percent, followed by Argentina, Nigeria, and the Netherlands.

KOTRA’s report also revealed that North Korea’s total external trade amounted to $1.59 billion in 2022, a 122.3 percent surge from the previous year.

Overseas shipments grew 94 percent year-on-year to $159 million, while imports increased 126 percent to $1.43 billion. The trade deficit widened significantly to $1.27 billion last year from a deficit of $549 million in 2021.

Minerals were North Korea’s top export items in 2022, with exports increasing 7,281 percent to nearly $4.5 million. Crude and other oil products were the main import goods, worth $520 million and accounting for 36.4 percent of its total imports.

A KOTRA official stated that North Korea’s trade with China is projected to increase further this year, citing a 270 percent rise in bilateral trade in the first five months of the year.

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