China's trade with North Korea sinks in Oct after UN sanctions

Trucks returning over the Friendship Bridge from the North Korean town of Sinuiju to the Chinese border city of Dandong in Liaoning province on Sept 5, 2017. PHOTO: AFP

BEIJING - China's trade with North Korea fell in October to US$334.9 million (S$452 million), its lowest since February, as imports shrank to their weakest in years, data showed on Thursday (Nov 23), the latest sign that sanctions have crimped business with its isolated neighbour.

The total is down almost 20 per cent from September and compares with US$525.2 million a year ago, according to customs data.

The world's second-largest economy bought goods worth US$90.75 million in October from North Korea, down sharply from US$145.8 million in September and the lowest on government records going back to January 2014, according to data from China's General Administration of Customs.

Exports eased to US$244.2 million. That compares with US$266.4 million in September and US$286.9 million in October last year.

The data comes as US President Donald Trump ramps up pressure on President Xi Jinping to tighten the screws further on Pyongyang, with steps such as limits on oil exports and financial transactions, aimed at reining in its nuclear and missile programmes.

Trade has slowed in recent months ahead of the latest steps, but the latest data represents the first whole month since the latest United Nations penalties came into force on Sept 5, banning Pyongyang from selling coal, iron ore, lead, lead ore and seafood abroad.

A more detailed breakdown by commodity will be released on Friday.

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