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N. Korea's trade volume drops to practically zero amid coronavirus pandemic: official

North Korea-China trade (Yonhap)
North Korea-China trade (Yonhap)
North Korea's trade with the outside world has dropped to practically zero due to the country's tightened border controls amid the global coronavirus pandemic, the unification ministry said Wednesday.

In January and February, the trade volume between the North and China stood at around $3.27 million, a ministry official said, citing Chinese customs data.

"This figure includes the trade volume of electricity exported last year so there were no actual physical exchanges," a ministry official said. "In January and February, there were practically no exchanges with the exception of exports of electricity, which requires no materials or people-to-people exchanges."

China accounts for almost all of the North's trade with foreign countries.

The North appears to be struggling to secure supplies due to the lack of imports of raw materials and food while the price of rice appears to be "relatively stable" as the country is keeping them under control, according to the official.

The official also said the North's local markets known as "jangmadang" appear to be in operation.

"There have been crackdowns on non-commercial, unauthorized merchant activities in the past and it is still ongoing now ... but as far as we know, their markets were not closed down and individual business activities were not banned (due to the pandemic)," he said.

North Korea has maintained tight bolder controls since early last year, and such protracted antivirus measures have hampered imports, taking a toll on its already fragile economy heavily dependent on neighboring China. (Yonhap)