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NK exports dropped 83.9% in 2018: UN agency

North Korea’s exports plummeted last year amid the continued international sanctions, according to the latest data of a UN agency for trade and investment.

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development’s Handbook of Statistics 2019 issued on Monday shows that North Korea’s exports plunged 83.8 percent in 2018 from a year ago to $300 million last year. Its imports dropped 34.1 percent from the previous year to $2.59 billion.

The latest UNCTAD handbook did not disclose the size of North Korea’s service trade or gross domestic product, but said that its economic growth turned negative to minus 1 percent last year, compared to 1.3 percent in 2017.


Foreign direct investment in North Korea declined 17.5 percent from a year earlier to $52 million in 2018, the UNCTAD said, without mentioning which countries the investment came from.

The figures in the UNCTAD handbook were similar to that of a report on North Korea’s external trade trends in 2018 issued by the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA) in July.

According to the KOTRA report, North Korea’s exports tumbled 86.3 percent on-year to $240 million in 2018, while its imports fell 31.2 percent to $2.6 billion.

The country’s trade deficit grew 17.5 percent on year to $2.36 billion last year, KOTRA said.

The drastic decline in trade volume appears to be related to the UN Security Council resolution on toughened sanctions against North Korea.

In response to the country’s fourth nuclear test in January 2016, the UNSC unanimously adopted Resolution 2270 in March 2016 that requires all states to inspect all cargo originating from or directed to North Korea; prohibits leasing or chartering flagged vessels and aircraft to North Korea; and bans exports of minerals from North Korea.

The inter-Korean industrial park in the North Korean border city of Kaesong was shut down later that year, and economic exchanges between the two Koreas came to a standstill.

By Kim So-hyun (