China-N.Korea trade slows down: MOFCOM

2017-07-06 20:11:11 | From:

China's trade withNorth Korea, especially imports, has been declining in recent years, official figures show.

China-North Korea trade in 2016 dropped by 2.5 percent from the previous year, and investment in North Korea by Chinese enterprises by 14.3 percent, figures from China'sMinistry of Commerce(MOFCOM) show.

Bilateral trade in the first five months this year totaled $2.05 billion, up 13.7 percent from the same period last year, according to the MOFCOM. It was a dramatic slowdown from 37.4 percent in the first three months of the year, thanks to declining imports from North Korea. North Korean imports reached $720 million in the first five months of the year, down 9.3 percent from the previous year.

China's General Administration of Customs said on June 23 that North Korean imports decreased 31 percent from a year earlier.

Trade between China and North Korea has shown signs of slowdown in recent years due to a raft of factors, according to China's Ministry of Commerce. The ministry said that China engages in trade and economic cooperation when it is fulfilling its international obligations.

Chinese experts said that instead of merely urging China to impose tougher sanctions on North Korea, it is time for the US to use more diplomatic methods and give up its selfish motives by strengthening its military presence in Northeast Asia over the Korean Peninsula issue.

The MOFCOM data was released one day after US PresidentDonald Trumptweeted on Wednesday that "trade between China and North Korea grew 40 percent in the first quarter. So much for China working with us--but we had to give it a try!"

Trump posted the tweet shortly before leaving for Warsaw, Poland on his way to theG20summit in Germany on Friday and Saturday.

Despite Trump's accusations on China, CNBC News noted that the latest trade data suggest that Trump's tweet missed its mark, and that China's trade with North Korea has been shrinking in the past three years.

China has banned imports of coal, iron ore, gold and rare earths, and several other raw minerals from North Korea, and had banned sales of jet fuel to North Korea. Following UN Security Council resolutions, the embargo immediately took effect, the Ministry of Commerce said in a statement on its website in June.

"China has made efforts to fulfill theUN sanctions on North Korea, and the current imports from the country are for the livelihood of the North Korean people," Dong Xiangrong, a research fellow at the National Institute of International Strategy of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times.

"The mining sector is a key part of North Korea's economy. The embargo will prevent foreign currency from getting into the country, so the money can't be funneled toward nuclear weapons and missiles," Dong said.

Despite China's efforts on imposing UN sanctions, it still insists that sanctions are not the only method to push North Korea to return to the negotiating table, and they could not directly lead to North Korea's giving up of its nuclear tests as the US wants, Dong said.

The Trump administration is studying new ways to starve North Korea of cash for its nuclear program, including sanctions on Chinese companies that have kept the North's economy afloat, AP reported on Thursday.

"The US has unrealistic expectations on China to take tougher action against North Korea. As a rather reclusive country, North Korea could survive for quite a long time even if China severs all exchanges with it. And its people would be the first to suffer from poverty," Dong said.

"The US has selfish motives in strengthening its alliance with Japan and South Korea as well as strengthening its military presence in Northeast Asia over the Korean Peninsula issue. But because the situation is beyond its control, it is time for the US to use more diplomatic methods, including talks with North Korea, instead of pressuring China," Dong said.

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