North Korea has visibly increased imports of cargo-handling machinery from Russia, a possible sign that the two countries are stepping up economic cooperation in developing a strategically located North Korean port, a trade agency report issued in Seoul showed Sunday.
Russia exported $21.16 million's worth of jib cranes, machinery used mostly for cargo handling at ports, to North Korea last year, accounting for nearly 22 percent of its total exports to the North, according to the report by the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency. The amount surpasses that of Russia's traditional export goods such as coal, petroleum and bituminous oil.
There were no records of the machines being exported to North Korea the year before, with the 2011 amount standing at $139,000.
North Korea and Russia maintain economic relations that include a project that would make North Korea's northeastern port city of Rajin a logistics hub by connecting it to Russia's Trans-Siberian Railway. North Korea is said to have agreed to a long-term lease of the No. 3 dock at Rajin port to Russia and that it is modernizing facilities there. The cranes may be for such modernization efforts, the KOTRA report said.
Also noteworthy is Russia's exports of ambulances to the North, amounting to approximately 10.1 billion won ($9.45 million), the fourth largest in terms of value. Ambulances are a relatively new product on the trade list. (Yonhap)