Seoul’s Industrial Bank of Korea’s North Korean Economy Research Center said Tuesday trade between North Korea and its most important trading partner China increased year-on-year over the past three months, ending in May. The South Korean research report used trade statistics from the Chinese government, then parsed the gathered data.
North Korea’s import of goods from China has reached its highest level since November 2017, South Korean researchers said. North Korea imported more from China than it exported, causing a deficit. Exports in May were up 25.2 percent year-on-year, and imports were also up, by 18.9 percent, from same time last year.
International sanctions against Pyongyang for nuclear weapons development had significantly lowered bilateral trade, but rising economic activity indicates China has become more willing to “influence North Korea” in a period of improved ties, the analysts added.
North Korea is also turning toward a greater dependency on China, according to the research.
North Korea’s relationship to China has been historically described as “lips and teeth,” a blood alliance forged during the 1950-53 Korean War.