July 15, 2019 12:39
North Korea racked up a trade deficit of US$2 billion last year due to economic sanctions, the highest figure in 10 years, according to the Voice of America on Saturday.
According to data from the International Trade Center, North Korea imported $2.31 billion worth of goods but exported only $294 million, resulting in a deficit of $2.02 billion.
From January to May this year, North Korea's trade deficit with China alone stood at $840 million, so the total is expected to be similar this year.
International sanctions are the main reason for the mounting deficit. In 2016, North Korea's trade deficit was $232 million, but it soared to $1.48 billion in 2017 when sanctions kicked in following the North's nuclear and missile tests.
Although it recorded trade deficit of around $1.5 billion in 2009 and 2010, it had been on the right track since, limiting it to under $1 billion.
VOA quoted William Brown of Georgetown University as saying North Korea was able to make up the trade deficit with money remitted by overseas laborers. But now that route is closed, North Korea could deplete its foreign reserves in a few years.
U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Affairs David Stilwell told Japan's NHK on Saturday that the U.S. has no plans to ease the sanctions until there is sufficient grounds to believe that North Korea is serious about keeping its promise to denuclearize.
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