According to data released by a South Korean government-run think tank today, trade between North Korea and China during the first five months of this year increased 27.9% ($2.5 billion USD) over the same period last year.
The Korea Development Institute believes that imports into the North totaled $1.46 billion for the period, whereas exports to China increased 29% to total $1.05 billion, leaving North Korea with a $410 million trade deficit.
Much of the growth in North Korean exports lies in coal; anthracite, a compact mineral coal, now accounts for more than 58% of the country’s total exports, not to mention half of all Chinese imports during the period. China largely provided North Korea with energy products and machinery.
Excluding trade with South Korea, China accounted for 89.1% of North Korea’s total trade volume, the report reveals. Again, this is a dramatic increase over last year’s figure of 52.6%, showing Pyongyang’s growing reliance on trade with its only major ally.