Trade between North Korea and China, its economic lifeline, slipped 13.4 percent on-year in the first three months of this year amid frayed bilateral ties, data showed Sunday.
Bilateral trade volume fell to US$1.1 billion in the January-March period, compared with $1.27 billion for the same period last year, the Beijing unit of South's Korea Trade and Investment Promotion Agency said, citing Chinese customs data.
China is North Korea's top economic benefactor, but its political ties with Pyongyang have been strained since the North's third nuclear test in February 2013.
No crude oil was officially sent to North Korea from China for all of last year.
China's shipments of crude oil to North Korea were also absent during the first quarter of this year.
South Korean diplomatic sources in Beijing, however, have cautioned against reading too much into the official Chinese trade figures because China has provided crude oil to North Korea in the form of grant aid in the past and such shipments were not recorded on paper. (Yonhap)