China suspends coal imports from N. Korea

BEIJING • China announced yesterday that it was suspending coal imports from North Korea for three weeks, in line with the latest United Nations sanctions against the hermit state.

"After the adoption of UN Security Council resolution 2321... China is suspending North Korean coal imports," the government said in a statement.

The three-week suspension starts today and ends on Dec 31, according to the statement.

The Security Council passed the resolution on the international sanctions against Pyongyang on Nov 30, in the wake of North Korea's Sept 9 nuclear test.

It limits North Korea's coal exports next year to 7.5 million tonnes or just over US$400 million (S$572 million), down 62 per cent compared with last year.

  • SANCTIONS AGAINST NORTH KOREA

    7.5m

    Tonnes of coal that North Korea can export next year.

    62%

    The amount by which the UN Security Council's limit cuts North Korean coal exports.

The cap represents a fraction of the North's current annual exports to China, which is its sole ally and main provider of trade and aid.

China imported 1.8 million tonnes of coal worth US$101 million from North Korea in October alone, according to the most recent figures available on the Chinese Customs website. The volume was up nearly 40 per cent year on year.

Under previous sanctions, the Security Council authorised the purchase of coal from North Korea provided revenues were not used to finance Pyongyang's nuclear programme. However, the UN did not specify any assessment criteria, which allowed Beijing to increase its imports considerably while saying it was acting in good faith.

Between March and October, 24.8 million tonnes of coal was imported, three times the annual limit now allowed by the UN.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 11, 2016, with the headline 'China suspends coal imports from N. Korea'. Print Edition | Subscribe