Published: Fri, July 14, 2017
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

China June Exports Rise as Global Trade Keeps Momentum

China June Exports Rise as Global Trade Keeps Momentum

The number of North Koreans escaping to the South declined sharply in the first half of this year as Pyongyang strengthened controls on its border with China, officials said Wednesday.

Chinese customs spokesman Huang Songping told a briefing on China's overall trade figures that total trade with North Korea expanded by 10.5 percent to $2.55bn in the first six months of the year.

"Simple accumulated data can not be used as evidence to question China's severe attitude in carrying out UN Security Council resolutions", Huang told a press briefing.

He pointed to a 13.2 percent drop in imports from North Korea in the same period as an example of the pressure, adding that there have been sharp decreases every month since March.

The Tumen River forms the North's border with China, and Pyongyang has been installing electric fencing and strengthening border controls there since late 2015, according to a report from the Korea Institute for National Unification, a think tank funded by the South Korean government.

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Notably, China Customs said its first-half coal and iron ore imports from North Korea were in line with U.N. Security Council resolutions. "Trade related to DPRK people's livelihood, especially those that reflect humanitarianism should not be influenced by the sanctions", Huang said.

President Trump criticized Beijing for the purchases last week, saying China is not using its economic leverage to halt North Korea's nuclear weapons and missile program.

China suspended imports of North Korean coal in February, while imports of iron ore accord with relevant United Nations resolutions, he said.

Adding to the potential for further US China trade friction, China had a $25.4bn trade surplus with the US in June, up from $22.0bn in May, customs data showed.

"Trade between China and North Korea grew nearly 40 per cent in the first quarter". Trump tweeted last week.

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