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Beijing reports major drop in trade with Pyongyang as sanctions hold

Latest trade figures show China’s imports from North Korea in June plunged by 92.6 percent compared to the same period last year with officials blaming UN sanctions against Pyongyang for the record low level of trade between the two countries.

Figures released by China’s Customs Agency showed that exports of Chinese oil and other goods to the North had also fallen 40.6 percent over the same period.

Sanctions against North Korea have remained in place despite recent diplomatic overtures to ease tensions around the country’s nuclear and missile program that include a historic meeting between US President Donald Trump and North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who visited Pyongyang this month, said sanctions would not be lifted until Kim follows through on his pledge to scrap its nuclear weapons.

China provides nearly all of the isolated North’s trade and energy supplies. Beijing has imposed limits on oil exports and sharply reduced North Korean revenue by banning purchases of its textiles, seafood and coal, according to a report by AP.

In the first six months of the year, Chinese imports fell 88.7 percent from the same period of 2017 to 690 million yuan ($103 million), according to figures released by China’s Customs Agency. Exports declined 43.1 percent to 6.4 billion yuan ($960 million), AP added.

Chinese exports to the North have declined for 11 straight months, while imports have declined for 10 months, the report added.

Last Friday, US President Trump complained that Beijing might be disrupting the sanctions regime against North Korea due to its trade dispute with Washington.

However, Kong Xuanyou, a deputy Chinese foreign minister, sounded a reassuring note about North Korea when he emphasized that Beijing was in “close coordination” with Washington over North Korea, AP concluded.