It has been reported that trade with China comprised more than 90% of North Korea’s total volume of trade last year. As sanctions from the international community against the North begin to bite, North Korea’s dependence on China appears to have only deepened.
According to data from the International Trade Center (ITC) of the World Trade Organization, North Korea’s total trade volume last year was 6.02 billion USD (6.8 trillion KPW), with exports accounting for 2.83 billion USD (3.2 trillion KPW) and imports at 3.19 billion USD (3.6 trillion KPW). Trade volume between China and North Korea amounted to 5.51 billion USD (6.2 trillion KPW), representing approximately 91.5% of North Korea’s total trade volume.
KITA (Korea International Trade Association) data derived from information from the General Administration of Customs of the People’s Republic of China revealed that the trade volume between China and North Korea during April to October last year rose by approximately 3% compared to the same period in 2015.
It has long been pointed out that if trade between China and North Korea continues to increase as it has been, the UNSC sanctions will have little effect. Therefore, it is expected that rising pressure will build for ‘secondary boycotts’ which aim to sanction Chinese corporations trading with North Korea.
In reference to this, Matthew Pottinger, a senior Trump aide overseeing Asian affairs in the National Security Council (NSC) stated at a press conference on April 5 that, “(Secondary boycotts targeting China) are in the initial agenda of the summit.”
According to ITC reports, India was North Korea’s second largest trading partner last year (with trade volume amounting to 140 million USD), followed by the Philippines (87 million USD), and Russia (76 million USD).