Price of Flour Goes Up, So Difficult to Sell Dumplings

Due to the food export restraint imposed by China, the price of food items have been rising significantly recently, revealed Good Friends, a nongovernmental organization for North Korea, through a newsletter released on the 30th.

The newsletter relayed, “The price of rice, flour, corn, and grains has been continuously rising due to a systematic adjustment in trade exchange with China. With the Beijing Olympics ahead, the duties on food items have gone up 5% for rice, 20% for corn, and 20~25% for flour.

The newsletter also divulged that “China demands an export permit for grains. Rice and corn are flowing into North Korea because the export permits issued last year still remain in effect. However, China has not yet demanded any export permits for flour, and therefore flour cannot be exported to North Korea.”

“As a result, the price of flour has been increasing rapidly within just a month. In December of last year, the price of flour remained at 1,000 won per unit for the most part, but since the new year, it rose to 1,700 won per unit. People who have been selling bread, dumplings, and snacks have not been able to do business due to the shortage of flour.”

The source relayed, “The North Korean custom house has been requesting a quality verification report on par with international standards at the time of the importing of Chinese food products, but a majority of merchants with whom food is traded has not been able to follow the new standard yet, saying such documents are hard to provide.”

“So, the food items have not been imported into the market, which has caused the price to continuously rise due to the lack of provisions. Nowadays, even if people tried to buy a 1 kg of rice for over 1,400 won, they are unable. Chinese companies who have been dealing with North Korea have predicted that the cease in trading with Chosun (North Korea) will give rise to a food shortage.

The Ministry of Commerce of the People’s Republic of China announced the process of registration and 2008 conditions for registration for milled farming export quarter on the 19th and has implemented a method for the provisional food export of rice, corn, and flour starting January of this year. Related parties of North Korea-Chinese trade forecasted that food exports to North Korea will be reduced significantly as a result of the stringent food export conditions imposed by the Chinese government.

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