China trade with North Korea up but imports off
BEIJING – China’s trade with North Korea has increased despite Beijing’s pledge to impose sanctions on North Korea’s nuclear program, but Chinese purchases of most of North Korea’s exports fell.
Customs data show that total trade in the first five months of this year increased by 15 percent compared to the previous year, fueled purchases of Chinese oil and consumer goods from North Korea. China bought more iron ore, but suspended purchases of coal, a major source of revenue for North Korea.
Trump wants Beijing to use its unique status as a major North Korean partner, trading partner and aid donor to push for the renunciation of nuclear development. Chinese leaders expressed growing frustration with North Korea, but resisted pressure to pressure leader Kim Jong A fears could collapse.
Total trade in the first five months of this year was just over 14 billion yuan ($ 2.1 billion), a limited sum of China, the largest operator in the world. But the relationship with North Korea, which shares a border with China, is politically significant.
“Unless North Korea started a war against China or other countries, China is not going to cut off all trade,” said Shi Yinhong, an international relations specialist at People’s University in Beijing.
“Some (economic) activities are not about making money, but about political concerns, so people want to hear Pyongyang ourselves sometimes when we talk,” Shi said. “The United States does so.”
Trump could use this week’s meeting of Group leaders of the top 20 economies in Germany to push for support, said Rajiv Biswas, chief economist for Asia and the Pacific for IHS Markit.
“An important approach is likely to impose sanctions on additional banks and companies deemed to be involved in facilitating North Korea’s illicit financial activity,” Biswas said in an e-mail.
Reinforced sanctions against North Korea include a decision of the Security Council U.N. June 3 to extend the travel ban to cover more people involved in the North’s nuclear weapons program.
The sanctions against the Koryo Bank of North Korea and both companies have hardened. A Chinese bank accused by Washington of helping North Korea to hide the forbidden financial activity was excluded from the US financial system June 29
“Global banks are likely to step up their compliance measures to ensure that their banking counterparts do not engage in any illegal transactions,” said Mr Biswas.
Washington could also target the transfer of North Korean funds working overseas or Chinese and other companies involved in North Korea, Biswas said.
On Wednesday, Trump quoted a statement from the Chinese customs agency that double-trade with North Korea rose 36.8% over the previous year in the first quarter of the year.
This seems to contradict China’s data which showed an increase of 7.4%. However, the customs agency said Thursday in an emailed reply the questions were more important because of a revision of last year’s figures, which was not published. He gave no further details.
Beijing has suspended coal imports in February after the North Korean nuclear test on the fifth of November, the challenge of the U.N. The following month, China’s imports from North Korea fell by 35 percent.
Meanwhile, China’s North Korean iron ore purchases, another key export for the mineral-rich country rose 34 percent from a year earlier in the first five months of the year, according to South Korea’s industrial group , The International Trade Association of Korea.