China’s exports to North Korea more than double in Jan-Feb on agricultural shipments

BEIJING : China’s overall exports to North Korea more than doubled in the first two months of 2023 from a year earlier, with major exports including granulated sugar, soybean oil and rice, Chinese customs data showed on Monday.

Chinese outbound shipments to the isolated country surged 161.5 per cent year-on-year to $300.5 million in January-February, data released by China’s General Administration of Customs showed.

The top export items in terms of value were granulated sugar, wool for wig production, soybean oil, rice, and rubber tyres.

South Korea’s DongA Ilbo newspaper reported in mid-February that North Korean food crisis may have deteriorated as the country has cut rations to its soldiers for the first time in more than two decades.

In recent decades, North Korea has suffered serious food shortages, including a famine in the 1990s, often as a result of natural disasters such as floods damaging harvests.

Pyongyang in January outlined plans to normalise industrial production, aiming to make 2023 “a year of great turn and change in the course of development”.

Even as it hailed the successful tackling of the COVID-19 outbreak last year, Pyongyang bought 13.57 million masks from China in the first two months, up 214.8 per cent year-on-year, the Chinese customs data showed.

It also imported 94,390 thermometers and 60,500 pairs of medical rubber gloves from China.

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