North Korea's imports of Chinese rice grew sharply in July, data showed Monday, apparently due in part to efforts to stabilize the price of the staple food in the impoverished country.
North Korea bought $7.02 million worth of rice from the neighboring country last month, up 115 percent from $3.27 million a year earlier, according to Chinese trade data from the Seoul-based Korea International Trade Association.
The amount also represents an on-month increase of 53 percent from $4.57 million.
The sudden increase in imports comes amid reports that the price of rice has risen sharply in the North.
According to the South Korean online newspaper DailyNK on Aug. 12, rice cost 5,800 won per kilogram in Pyongyang, up 1,550 won from the middle of July.
"Because North Korea has reached the point where it has consumed all of the rice it produced last year, it appears that it has increased imports in order to stabilize the price of rice,"
said Kwon Tae-jin, a North Korea analyst at the Seoul-based GS&J Institute.
Meanwhile, the total amount of North Korea's grain imports from China dropped sharply in the first half of this year to 58,387 tons, or 47 percent of the total in the same period last year. (Yonhap)