N. Korea's trade with China drops 6 pct in H1: diplomat

BEIJING, Aug. 12 (Yonhap) -- North Korea's trade with China fell 6 percent on-year in the first six months of this year, apparently hit by Beijing's tougher stance against Pyongyang's nuclear program, a senior Seoul diplomat said Monday.

The North's trade with China stood at US$2.95 billion in the January-June period, compared with $3.14 billion a year earlier, said the diplomat at the South Korean Embassy in Beijing.

Exports to China rose 6 percent to $1.36 billion, while imports declined 14 percent to $1.59 billion, the diplomat said on the condition of anonymity, citing official data.

"The drop in overall North Korea-China trade in the first six months of this year appears to be affected by tighter inspections by Chinese customs authorities," the diplomat said.

North Korea's imports of Chinese crude oil slipped 15 percent from a year ago to 250,000 tons during the six-month period, according to the data.

In particular, the North's imports of food from China plunged 65 percent to 120,000 tons for the January-June period, the data showed.

China has become increasingly frustrated with North Korea, particularly after the North's third nuclear test in February. Beijing voted in favor of sanctions by the U.N. Security Council to punish Pyongyang for conducting the nuclear test.

In May, the Bank of China closed accounts with North Korea's Foreign Trade Bank, which was accused by the U.S. of helping finance the North's nuclear weapons program.

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