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Trade Winds
Business Booming Between China and North Korea

President Trump’s plan to curtail Chinese trade with North Korea is not exactly going as planned, Reuters reports:

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 $2.55 billion in the first six months of the year.

While China’s imports from North Korea dropped 13.2 percent to $880 million in the period from January to June, exports to North Korea rose 29.1 percent to $1.67 billion, he said.

It looks like those first-quarter numbers were no fluke: bilateral trade continues to climb despite Trump’s urgings to get tough on North Korea. The trade trends here are not illegal, since the growth in exports has been fueled by goods that are not subject to UN sanctions (as the Chinese have been quick to point out). But we suspect those niceties are not going to sit well with President Trump, who expected Beijing to do more than the bare minimum against Pyongyang.

The President has already indicated that his patience with China is up, and he recently levied secondary sanctions on a Chinese bank in an sign of displeasure with China’s efforts in cracking down on trade. As Beijing refuses to budge and Trump moves ever-higher up the escalation ladder, expect harsher economic measures to make Pyongyang feel the pain.

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  • Unelected Leader

    Great! let’s see, 10% plus three countries involved, so 10×3 = 30% tariff on all goods coming from China. Can you imagine in Trump even said something like that jokingly? Xi Jinping would need a new diaper. Time for massive sanctions on Chinese banks and elites tied to SOEs supporting NK, Anything less is a roll over. Anything more basically be a strike.

  • FriendlyGoat

    I always thought of DPRK as a rather useless place, but recently read it is actually a virtual trove of valuable natural substances, perhaps 200 different kinds, some rare-earth, and largely under-developed. This, if true, goes a long way toward explaining why China cannot be easily peeled away from Kim.

    • rheddles

      The labor practices used in recovering those natural substances are apparently so unpalatable that the Chinese won’t engage in them.

      • FriendlyGoat

        Yeah, we gotta know it’s horrific. That’s maybe what a “lesser nation” is good for in China’s eyes. But, these resources might be a glue for those two which goes beyond merely sharing communist ideology.

    • ltlee1

      In addition, Western media is biased as usual.
      The real question is not “total trade with North Korea expanded by 10.5 percent to $2.55 billion in the first six months of the year.” Rather, total trade with North Korea would be how much bigger if China is not doing its best to restrain North Korea.

      • FriendlyGoat

        I would be interested in knowing what the China/North Korea trade consists of—–drilled down—–more than the quantified size of it.

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