China’s exports to North Korea more than tripled in 2022

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BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s overall exports to North Korea more than tripled in 2022 from a year earlier as freight train operations between the two countries resumed following a suspension to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Chinese outbound shipments to North Korea surged 247.5% year-on-year to $894 million, trade data released by China’s General Administration of Customs showed on Friday.

The top export items in terms of value were soybean oil, rubber tyres, granulated sugar, tobacco and unnamed medicines.

Pyongyang had stockpiled large amounts of Chinese medical goods including masks and ventilators in early 2022.


North Korea declared victory over COVID-19 in August, but in December it still bought 2.27 million masks, 12,000 thermometers and 40,000 pairs of medical rubber gloves from China, trade data released by Beijing showed.

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North Korea’s parliament outlined plans to normalise industrial production and meet its economic goals this year, state media reported on Thursday.

Kim Tok Hun, premier of North Korean cabinet, lauded the country for “successfully tackling the worst-ever upheaval since the founding of the country” amid the COVID-19 outbreak, adding the cabinet aims to make 2023 “a year of great turn and change in the course of development” marking the 75th anniversary of the country’s foundation.

The reclusive country shut its borders to nearly all trade for most of the pandemic, only resuming supplies and products from China in 2022. That sent bilateral trade to $1.03 billion in 2022, surging 226% from a year earlier.


(Reporting by Ellen Zhang and Ryan Woo; Editing by Kim Coghill)