Archive for the ‘International trade’ Category

Data on Kaesong’s cumulative performance

Thursday, June 12th, 2014

According to Yonhap:

Cumulative production of the inter-Korean industrial park has come to US$2.3 billion as the most salient outcome of rapprochement between the Koreas marks its 10th anniversary of operations this week, the unification ministry said Thursday.

The joint factory complex in the North Korean border town of Kaesong opened a decade ago following the first inter-Korean summit meeting in 2000, in which their leaders adopted a joint declaration calling for closer cooperation and exchanges.

On June 14, 2004, a group of 15 South Korean groups signed contracts to operate factories in the then-newly built complex, inaugurating the era of the Kaesong Industrial Complex. In December that year, the joint complex saw its first batch of goods produced in its factories.

In the first full year of operations in 2005, annual output reached $14.9 million before jumping by more than 30-fold to $469.5 million in 2012, according to the unification ministry.

But yearly output nearly halved last year from 2012 after Pyongyang suspended operations of the Kaesong complex for five months from April amid inter-Korean tensions. The figure rose to $168.1 million in the first quarter of this year.

The value of inter-Korean trade through the park came to an accumulated $9.45 billion, according to the ministry.

A total of 940,000 people have visited the inter-Korean economic zone, with 125 South Korean firms currently operating in the complex designed to match deep-pocketed South Korean companies with cheap North Korean labor.

Among the firms, 73, or 58.4 percent, are textile firms, while another 24 firms are machinery or steel makers. The complex is also home to 13 electronics makers and 9 chemicals firms, the ministry noted.

The Kaesong complex also saw the number of North Korean workers grow from around 6,000 in 2005 to 52,000 as of recently, along with monthly salary more than doubling from $50 to more than $130.

Although this story reports salaries of $130, a separate story released just a couple of days ago claims the monthly incomes are just $70. I am not sure why the discrepancy.

Read the full story here:
Cumulative output of Kaesong park reaches US$2.3 bln
Yonhap
2014-6-12

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Eberstadt on DPRK Trade

Wednesday, June 4th, 2014

UPDATE 1 (2014-6-12): Witness to Transformation has an update here.

ORIGINAL POST (2014-6-4): Nicholas Eberstadt has written an interesting article on trends in the DPRK’s trade patterns from 2002-2013.

Here is just one graph:

Eberstadt-graph-DPRK-trade-2014-6-4

Read the full article here.

Dr. Eberstadt draws some counter-intuitive conclusions that cannot be observed directly from the published data. You can read all about the published data on the DPRK’s 2013 trade statistics here.

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DPRK leases ROK waters to Chinese fishermen

Friday, May 30th, 2014

NLL-chinese-fishing-2014-6-4

 

Pictured Above: Areas where the fishermen are allegedly crossing the NLL

According to the Joongang Ilbo:

North Korea signed a contract with Chinese fishermen allowing them to fish in waters near the disputed maritime border including South Korea’s waters, sources told the JoongAng Ilbo yesterday.

The contract allows Chinese fishermen to work near the Northern Limit Line (NLL), the de facto maritime border between the two Koreas in the Yellow Sea, including South Korean waters below the boundary, Seoul officials said. In return for giving the Chinese fishermen the right to work in South Korean waters, particularly during crab and squid seasons, North Korea is paid a certain amount of money annually, officials said.

“As North Korea has expanded its joint fishery area with China [to the southern waters below the NLL], some Chinese vessels are moving southward more than they did before,” a South Korean government official said. “We are thinking of more active measures to keep them from violating the NLL.”

Officials confirmed that the South Korean waters allegedly being rented out to the Chinese fishermen were three areas north and east of Baengnyeong Island and north of Yeonpyeong Island. Under the alleged contract, several North Korean and Chinese vessels have recently worked together, officials said. Some North Korean fishermen were allegedly hired by the Chinese vessels’ owners as well.

“Last year, most Chinese vessels worked north of the NLL, but recently they worked very close to the NLL and some crossed the line,” a Korean Coast Guard official said. “So we dispatched additional patrol ships and special Coast Guard forces to the areas.”

Starting in April, the Chinese ships gradually approached the NLL, officials said, and from mid-May, several large vessels crossed the border frequently, apparently for crab fishing.

The Korean Coast Guard seized a total of six Chinese boats that violated the NLL since May 19, including three 10-ton vessels on Tuesday. They said they also spotted about 100 vessels, assumed to be Chinese, near Yeonpyeong Island, and 170 near Baengnyeong Island, fishing in South Korean waters.

The South Korean government notified Beijing of the illegal fishing and called for them to stop, officials said.

“The Foreign Ministry and the Coast Guard told the Chinese Coast Guard officials about the contract that included our waters,” another South Korean official said. “We demanded the Chinese government warn the vessels not to cross the NLL.”

Military officials in Seoul raised concerns about the purpose of the contract. They say that the regime appears to be attempting to nullify the effectiveness of the boundary as well as to earn foreign currency.

“In the name of controlling the Chinese vessels, some North Korean patrol ships could cross the border or seize our fishing boats as well,” a military official said.

Read the full story here:
North rents out waters near NLL
Joongang Ilbo
Jeong Yong-soo
2014-5-30

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Japan and DPRK announce agreement on santions/abductions

Friday, May 30th, 2014

Here is the official statement published by KCNA (and KCNA Watch):

Substance of Agreement at DPRK-Japan Inter-Governmental Talks

Pyongyang, May 30 (KCNA) — Substance of the agreement reached at the DPRK-Japan inter-governmental talks held in Stockholm, Sweden on May 26-28, 2014 is as follows:

Both sides had an in-depth discussion on the issues of settling the inglorious past, settling pending issues and normalizing the bilateral relations according to the DPRK-Japan Pyongyang Declaration.

The Japanese side requested the DPRK side to conduct a survey of all Japanese including the remains and graves of the Japanese who died in the territory of the DPRK before and after the year 1945 and the remaining Japanese, Japanese spouses, victims of abduction and missing Japanese.

The DPRK side appreciated the Japanese side’s recognition of the efforts made by the DPRK to settle the abduction issue in the past and expressed the willingness to conduct a comprehensive and full-scale survey for all the Japanese for the final settlement of all issues related to Japanese though there is its previous stand.

According to this, the Japanese side voiced its intent to finally lift the measures against the DPRK (sanctions) which it is slapping on its own at present. (The measures taken as regards resolutions of the UNSC are not included.)

The action measures to be taken by both sides are as follows:

Both sides decided to implement the following specific measures at an early date and have a close consultation to do so:

-Japanese side

First, the Japanese side re-clarified its will to settle its inglorious past, solve the pending issues and normalize the relations together with the DPRK side according to the DPRK-Japan Pyongyang Declaration and agreed to take a sincere approach towards building confidence between the two countries and settling issues of improving the bilateral relations.

Second, it agreed to lift restrictions on visits of persons, special measure of restrictions taken against the DPRK regarding money remittance and money carried by visitors and the embargo on the entry of the DPRK-flagged ships with a humanitarian mission into the Japanese ports once the DPRK side sets up a “special investigation committee” for the comprehensive survey and starts it.

Third, it highly appreciated the cooperation rendered by the DPRK side in realizing the visits to ancestral graves in the DPRK by bereaved families of Japan as regards the issue of the remains of Japanese and agreed to take necessary measures, furthering the consultation with the DPRK side in connection with the handling of the remains of Japanese and their graves left uncared in the territory of the DPRK and the visits to the ancestral graves.

Fourth, the Japanese side agreed to continue the survey of the Koreans who went missing in the past as requested by the DPRK side and take relevant steps through discussion with the DPRK side.

Fifth, it agreed to have a sincere discussion on the issue of the status of the Koreans in Japan according to the DPRK-Japan Pyongyang Declaration.

Sixth, in order to confirm issues arising in the comprehensive and full-scale survey, it agreed to take appropriate measures including the meeting with personnel concerned from the Japanese side and sharing of relevant information about the issues, raised by the DPRK side.

Seventh, it agreed to examine humanitarian aid to the DPRK at an appropriate time from a humanitarian stand.

-DPRK side

First, the DPRK side agreed to conduct a comprehensive and full-scale survey of all Japanese including the remains and graves of those who died in the territory of the DPRK before and after the year 1945, remaining Japanese, Japanese spouses, victims of abduction and missing Japanese.

Second, it agreed to conduct a simultaneous survey of all matters raised, not just giving priority to some of them.

Third, it agreed to set up the “special investigation committee” invested with special mandate (mandate to survey all organs) with a view to conducting specific and in-depth survey of all matters.

Fourth, it agreed to inform the Japanese side of the survey and confirmation of Japanese when necessary including the issues of the remains of Japanese and their graves, remaining Japanese and Japanese spouses. It agreed to have an appropriate discussion with the Japanese side on the issue of handling the remains unearthed in the course of work and the issue of course of action concerning the survivors including their repatriation.

Fifth, as for the abduction issue it agreed to inform the Japanese side of the survey of the abductees and missing Japanese when necessary. When survivors are found in the course of survey, it agreed to inform the Japanese side of it and discuss the issue of the course of action and take measures in the direction of sending them back to Japan.

Sixth, in order to ensure the confirmation of the issues raised by the Japanese side as the survey progresses, it agreed to take appropriate measures for stay in the DPRK of the Japanese personnel concerned and meet with persons concerned and visits to the places concerned while sharing relevant information with the Japanese side.

Seventh, it agreed to make a prompt survey, further consultation of issues arising in this course in various forms and methods and take appropriate measures.

Unverified reports claim there are some minor discrepancies between the Japanese and Korean understandings of the statements. Reportedly the Japanese side has agreed to remove the restrictions at a point of time when the “special investigation committee” has been established and investigations have been initiated, not simply when a committee was established. Secondly the Mangyongbong-92 will remain unauthorized to enter Japan. Finally, the Japanese will do nothing to intervene in the sale of the Chongryun (Shosen Soren) headquarters.

Here is additional coverage:

1. 38 North

2. Yonhap

3. The Diplomat

4. Associated Press

5. Stephan Haggard

6. Japan Times

7. NK News

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China eases import procedures for goods from DPRK

Thursday, May 29th, 2014

According to the Daily NK:

China has taken steps to simplify customs procedures in a bid to enhance revenue accrued from toll processing with North Korea, Radio Free Asia reported on the 29th. Northeastern Jilin Province is said to be benefiting substantially thanks to toll processing of items contracted out by Chinese companies for manufacture in North Korea.

According to the report, a customs office in Hunchun now serves as the hub of toll processing for clothing. It is believed that the average time for customs processing has been shortened by 57% for imported products in the last year alone. The province calls it a “tailor-made development strategy” and, they assess, the scale of the textile industry has expanded as a result.

Last year saw China import US$500m worth of clothing from North Korea, a 34% increase from 2012, Radio Free Asia further conveyed.

Some analysts attribute the spike in toll processing between the two countries to North Korea’s enhanced efforts to attract foreign capital from China amid suspended inter-Korean trade relations. The North Korean authorities have also made moves to boost the domestic textile sector by increasing wages at state-run mills.

Read the full story here:
Toll Processing Proving Lucrative for Jilin
Daily NK
2014-5-29
Lee Sang-yong

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DPRK – China Trade 2012-2013 comparison

Thursday, May 22nd, 2014

UPDATE: Here is the original KOTRA report.

ORIGINAL POST: According to Yonhap:

Despite years of international sanctions, North Korea’s overall trade volume reached a new annual high in 2013 due largely to growing shipments to and from its closest ally, China, a South Korean trade agency said Thursday.

The North’s overall trade volume came to US$7.34 billion in 2013, up 7.8 percent from the previous year, according to the state-run Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA).

“It is the highest amount since KOTRA began compiling data on North Korea’s annual trade volumes in 1990,” it said in a press release.

The country’s exports jumped 11.7 percent on-year to $3.22 billion, with imports growing 5 percent to $4.12 billion.

Bilateral trade volume between North Korea and China came to $6.54 billion, accounting for 89.1 percent of the North’s overall trade in 2013.

“North Korea’s dependence on China for trade has been increasing steadily since 2005 when its trade volume with China exceeded 50 percent of its overall trade,” KOTRA said.

“In addition, it shows China’s pledge to tighten its customs check on shipments to and from North Korea, in protest of North Korea’s missile launch in December 2012 and a nuclear test in February 2013, did not have any significant effect on North Korea-China trade,” it added.

The large increase in North Korea’s overall exports was attributed to growing shipments of fuel, such as coal, which surged 14.9 percent on-year to $1.43 billion, accounting for 44.4 percent of the country’s total exports.

Out of all energy exports, 97.2 percent were shipped to China.

Russia, another North Korean ally, was the country’s second-largest trading partner in 2013, with bilateral trade volume spiking 37.3 percent to $104 million.

Note, this does not contain South Korea data, which for purely political reasons is counted as inter-Korean (domestic) trade. According to a KIEP presentation by Yoon Deok-ryong, DPRK-ROK trade in 2013 amounted to $1.14b.

Here is what the Institute for Far Eastern Studies had to say:

North Korean Foreign Trade Volume Posts Record High of USD 7.3 Billion in 2013

According to a recent report by the Korea Trade Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA), foreign trade in North Korea (excluding inter-Korean trade) reached a record high of USD 7.3 billion in 2013, up 7.8 percent from the previous year. The report, released on May 22, 2014, marks the fourth year since South Korea enacted the “May 24 Measures,” suspending all inter-Korean trade and economic cooperation outside of the Kaesong Industrial Complex. KOTRA, a South Korean state-run agency which analyzes North Korea’s foreign trade volume, noted that last year’s figures were the highest ever since they began recording data in 1990.

The report shows that North Korean exports and imports in 2013 both increased compared to the previous year, up 11.7 percent (totaling USD 3.2 billion) and 5 percent (totaling USD 4.1 billion), respectively. KOTRA’s data analysis says that North Korean exports consist mostly of “mineral resources such as coal, iron ore, copper and aluminum,” and noted that “the recent boom of contract manufacturing (toll processing) businesses has led to an increase in textile and clothing exports.” Imports, such as electricity, transport vehicles and grains also saw increases, but North Korea was still able to cut their trade deficit by about USD 20 million, from 1 billion (2012) to 980 million (2013).

North Korea’s largest trading partner is China. The trade volume between the two allies reached a total of USD 6.5 billion in 2013, up 8.9 percent from the previous year. This accounts for 89.1 percent of all of North Korea’s foreign trade, showing increasing dependence on China. Despite Beijing’s partaking in international sanctions against North Korea, it appears to have had a little effect on the bilateral trade between the two nations.

North Korea’s other top trading partners behind China include Russia, India, Thailand and Singapore (in that order). In particular, foreign trade with Russia increased by 37.3 percent last year and totaled over USD 100 million (7 million in exports, 97 million in imports). KOTRA explained the sharp increase in Russian imports in the second half of 2013 was due to import of transport vehicles and machineries for the railway construction between the areas of Rajin and Hassan.

KOTRA’s research shows that while the trade with Japan has been nonexistent since 2009, the two nations recently have begun to engage in talks at the bureau-chief level. As expected, due to the economic sanctions imposed on North Korea, foreign trade with the United States remains limited to food, basic necessities, and humanitarian aid.

Coal, lignite and other mineral fuels are North Korea’s largest export products, accounting for 44.4 percent of total foreign exports. This figure increased by nearly 15 percent in 2013, reaching USD 1.4 billion. A staggering 97.2 percent of these mineral exports are sent to China. Other exports such as clothing and textiles saw a 33.5 percent increase from the previous year, totaling USD 520 million. Meanwhile, imports of crude and refined oil – North Korea’s largest import commodities – were recorded at USD 780 million in 2013, a 3.8 percent decrease compared to 2012. North Korea’s oil is imported almost exclusively from China at 94.5 percent.

Despite recent economic sanctions imposed by the international community, North Korea’s foreign trade volume has continued to rise over the last four years thanks to increases in coal, iron and other mineral exports to China. Furthermore, in order to diversify its foreign trade and reduce its trade dependence on China, North Korea likely will continue to further promote bilateral ties with Russia.

Here is coverage in Business Korea.

Aidan Foster-Carter offers this update in the Wall Street Journal’s Korea Real Time.

Nicholas Eberstadt offers analysis here.

Read the full story here:
N. Korea’s overall trade volume grows to record high in 2013
Yonhap
2014-5-22

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Loopholes in UN sanctions against North Korea

Tuesday, May 6th, 2014

A new article in 38 North by Hugh Griffiths and Lawrence Dermody.

Here is the introduction:

The latest United Nations report on North Korean sanctions has once again highlighted the role of foreign companies in cases of UN sanctions evasion. TheMarch 2014 report by the independent Panel of Experts assigned to monitor sanctions against the DPRK on behalf of the UN noted the widespread involvement of foreign companies.

A new SIPRI study backs up the UN report and goes further, showing that foreign company involvement in North Korean sanctions violations is not new and is more than just a trend-foreign companies and individuals travelling on foreign passports constitute an overwhelming majority of those identified as involved in the violation of both multilateral and unilateral sanctions dating as far back as 2004.While the majority of companies and individuals identified as involved in sanctions violations are either registered abroad or hold foreign passports, the international community continues to overwhelmingly target companies and individuals registered in North Korea. This targeting takes the form of “designations” by which the United Nations and the European Union together with countries such as Australia, Japan and the US order asset freezes on particular companies, as well as trade bans, and slap travel bans on named individuals traveling on North Korean passports.

These dynamics–identified for the first time in the SIPRI study–may have implications for policy-makers seeking to apply new rounds of sanctions on North Korea in response to any fourth nuclear test.

Most firms designated by the UN and the EU as well as Australia, Japan and the United States are North Korean-registered trading companies while virtually no North Korean transportation companies have been designated. In conREAD MOREtrast to trading companies which have few fixed assets and can easily switch name and other forms of corporate identity, transportation companies that utilize aircraft and ships are easier to monitor and track despite name-changes. Given the key role that transportation plays in the logistics of sanctions evasion, the SIPRI study provides a number of recommendations in support of these and other findings….

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DPRK trade with Hong Kong in 2013

Thursday, May 1st, 2014

According to Yonhap:

North Korea increased imports of vehicles and alcoholic beverages from Hong Kong in 2013, despite an overall drop in bilateral trade, a South Korean report showed Thursday.

The trade representative office for Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA) in Hong Kong said Pyongyang spent US$4.36 million to buy vehicles, up 27.5 percent from the year before, a large number of them with over 3-liter engine and seating capacity for more than 10 people.

Cars were the second-largest single product imported by North Korea from Hong Kong after electronic components, the office said.

“The cars were made in other countries and shipped through Hong Kong,” it said.

North Korean imports of alcoholic beverages shot up 51.3 percent last year from 2012, with whiskey and vodka making up the bulk of products shipped. Though liquor products only accounted for 1.4 percent of goods shipped from the former British colony to Pyongyang, its annual growth rate surpassed that of all others last year.

This trend continued into 2014, with North Korea’s purchase of alcoholic beverages soaring 758.8 percent in January and February vis-a-vis the previous year, according to the KOTRA office.

The latest report showed that two-way trade dropped 57.2 percent on-year to $26.99 million, with Hong Kong’s exports falling 53.7 percent. It said no crude oil, grain and fertilizers were shipped to the North.

Imports from North Korea nosedived 87.9 percent to $770,000.

The report showed that in the first two months of this year, Hong Kong’s exports to North Korea was down 67.9 percent on-year, while imports fell 63 percent.

Read the full story here:
N. Korea increases car, liquor imports from Hong Kong in 2013: report
Yonhap
2014-5-1

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DPRK signs economic agreement with local Russian governments

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014

Not much specific information is available, but the DPRK has signed economic agreements with Russia’s Amur and Sakhalin Regions.

According to RIA Novosti:

North Korea’s Foreign Trade Ministry and the authorities of Russia’s Amur region in the country’s southeast have signed an economic cooperation agreement, the Yonhap news agency reports.

“An agreement on trade and economic cooperation was signed between the DPRK ministry of Foreign Trade and the Amur Regional Government of the Russian Federation,” Yonhap cited Pyongyang’s KCNA state news agency as saying Monday.

According to the Korean Central News Agency, the accord was signed Monday during the visit of Yuri Trutnev, a Russian Deputy Prime Minister and Putin’s official envoy to Russia’s Far Eastern Region.

As part of his North Korea trip, Yuri Trutnev met with the Cabinet’s Vice President Ro Tu-chol and reportedly shared his views on a broader economic cooperation between the two nations, among other issues.

The agreement between Moscow and Pyongyang is another step towards closer economic partnership in the Far Eastern region, after the Amur territory on China’s northern border signed a fraternity and trade deal with Korea’s South Pyongan province in 2011.

A similar economic cooperation agreement was signed last week between Pyongyang and the local government of Russia’s Sakhalin region.

Voice of Russia reports the following:

North Korean’s Foreign Trade Ministry and the government of Russia’s far-eastern Amur region have signed an agreement on trade and economic cooperation, the Yonhap news agency reports with reference to the Korea Central News Agency (KCNA).

The agreement was signed on Monday during a visit to Pyongyang of a Russian delegation led by Deputy Prime Minister and Presidential Plenipotentiary in the Far-Eastern Federal District Yuri Trutnev.

No further details have been immediately available.

A wide range of matters, connected with the development of political, trade-and-economic cooperation will be discussed in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) by Yuri Trutnev, Russia’s Vice-Premier and Russia’s plenipotentiary presidential representative in the Far Eastern Federal District.

An official at the Russian Embassy to the DPRK said that Trutnev would arrive here by air on Monday by a special flight at the head of a Russian delegation for a three-day visit, TASS reports.

Apart from talks with DPRK officials, the Vice-Premier will attend a ceremony marking the handover of a large consignment of fire-engines to the Korean side.

The delegation will also lay flowers to the Liberation Monument here. The Monument bears an inscription “Eternal glory to the Great Soviet Army that liberated the Korean People from the yoke of Japanese militarists and opened up the road for the Korean people to freedom and independence!”.

The delegation leader will be accompanied by Primorsky Territory Governor Vladimir Miklushevsky, Khabarovsk Territory Governor Vyacheslav Shport, and Amur Region Governor Oleg Kozhemyako.

In March this year, the DPRK was visited by President Rustam Minnikhanov of the Republic of Tatarstan, as well as by Alexander Galushka, Russian Minister for the Development of the Far East. The latter attended a meeting of the Co-Chairmen of the Intergovernmental Commission for Trade-and-Economic, Scientific and Technical Cooperation between the Russian Federation and the DPRK as head of the Russian part of the Commission.

Moscow and Pyongyang actively strengthen economic contacts of late. The delegations of Russia and the DPRK attended a meeting the international “Organization for Cooperation of Railways. It is reckoned that the Organization’s main goals are to develop international freight and passenger transportation, and establish a Common Railway Transportation Space in Eurasia. This year the Organization’s conference is being attended for the first time by South Korea as well.

Tense relations between Pyongyang and Seoul are keeping on at the political level. Nevertheless, Russia is calling on the two countries to reach agreement between each other and take part in implementing the project for linking up the inter-Korean Railway and the Trans-Siberian Mainline Railway (Trans-Sib).

Railway transport is one of important areas of cooperation between Russia and the DPRK. A ceremony marking the completion of the upgrading of the railway section running from the Russian station of Khasan to the North Korean city of Rajin was held in the Republic in September last year. Work has been also completed to bring into being a general-purpose trans-shipment terminal in Rajin the principal port in the Rason trade-and-economic zone.

The upgrading of the infrastructure of the Khasan-Rajin railway leg is viewed as the pilot segment of the reconstruction of the entire Trans-Korea Railway. In prospect, when railway communication from the South Korean port of Pusan via the DPRK to Russia is established in full, an opportunity will open up to reorient to Russia’s Trans-Sib a considerable part of goods, which are currently shipped now via a trans-oceanic seaway from South Korea to Europe.

The possibility is being explored for inviting South Korean businessmen to participate in developing the railway transportation infrastructure o the DPRK, including port facilities.

Here is some comprehensive analysis by 38 North.

Here is some more analysis at the Hankoyreh.

Read the full stories here:
Russia, North Korea Strike Economic Cooperation Deal
RIA Novosti
2014-4-29

N Korea, Russia’s Amur region seal regional cooperation deal
Voice of Russia
2014-4-29

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DPRK grain imports from China fall

Sunday, April 27th, 2014

We earlier posted an article on how DPRK-China trade has fallen in the first quarter of 2014. The DPRK has apparently imported zero oil from China in the first quarter of this year.

Grain imports from China also fell.

According to Yonhap:

North Korea’s grain imports from China decreased by more than 50 percent in the first quarter from a year earlier, data showed Sunday.

According to the Korea International Trade Association (KITA), North Korea imported 26,263 tons of grain, including 23,636 tons of flour, 1,241 tons of rice and 1,192 tons of corn, from China in the January-March period.

The North’s imports during the first three months is equivalent to 48 percent of 54,178 tons imported during the same period a year ago, the data showed. Compared with the first quarter of 2012, the country’s grain imports from China decreased about 40 percent.

In terms of value, the North’s imports of Chinese grain amounted to US$11.93 million in the first quarter, down 52 percent from $24.71 last year.

“The drop in the North’s grain imports from China in the period compared with other years seems to be due to an increase in the country’s grain production last year,” said Kwon Tae-jin, a research fellow at the government-funded Korea Rural Economic Institute (KREI). “However, the country may increase its grain imports in the future, as the amount of its grain production is not enough for its people.”

The U.N. World Food Program (WFP) estimates the North produced 5.03 million tons of polished grain between November 2013 and October 2014, up 5 percent from a year ago.

Read the full story here:
N. Korea’s grain imports from China halve in Q1
Yonhap
2014-4-27

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