DPRK grain imports from China in first half of 2011

According to Yonhap:

North Korea imported more corn and less rice from China in the first half of this year than in the same period a year ago apparently due to a lack of foreign cash, a study showed Sunday.

North Korea’s grain imports from the neighboring country in the six-month period consisted of 38.2 percent corn, 37.5 percent flour, 16.9 percent rice and 7.2 percent beans, according to an analysis of the two countries’ trade by Kwon Tae-jin, vice president of the Korea Rural Economic Institute.

Last year, the figures stood at 34.2 percent flour, 28.8 percent corn, 19.3 percent rice and 16.4 percent beans, indicating an overall increase in imports of cheaper grains such as corn and flour this year, according to the study based on data from the Korea International Trade Association. Imports of rice and beans, meanwhile, fell from the same period last year.

This year, imports of beans cost $661 per ton on average, while a ton of rice, flour and corn sold for $538, $395 and $304, respectively.

The total amount of grain imports rose 5.5 percent to 149,173 tons, up from 141,395 tons in the first half of last year, apparently reflecting food shortages in the impoverished nation, the study said. Grain imports cost US$404 per ton on average, up 8.6 percent from $372 last year, bringing the total cost to $60.3 million, or 14.4 percent more than last year.

“The amount of grain imports last year was larger than in most years, but the fact that (North Korea) imported even more this year seems to indicate a shortage of food,” Kwon said in his study. “The larger imports of corn than beans or rice appears to be the result of a lack of foreign currency.”

Meanwhile, North Korea also boosted its imports of fertilizers by 91 percent in the first half of this year, buying a total of 190,396 tons compared with 99,588 tons in the same period last year. The country bought more than 164,000 tons of ammonium sulfate, which is sold at $188 per ton, while only importing some 25,000 tons of urea for $346 per ton.

“It seems like either fertilizer production in North Korea has dropped significantly, or they are aiming to boost their food production by a large amount,” Kwon said.

The Daily NK also published a story on these findings.

Read the full story here:
Lack of foreign cash forces N. Korea to buy more corn, less rice
Yonhap
2011-8-14

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