Bloomberg News

N. Korea’s 2011 China Trade Grew More Than 60 Percent

January 02, 2013

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un

Kim Jong-Un, leader of North Korea. Photographer: Ed Jones/AFP/GettyImages

(Corrects China-North Korea trade figure in second paragraph in story published Dec. 27.)

North Korea’s trade with China expanded more than 60 percent to $5.63 billion in 2011, as the totalitarian regime deepened its dependence on its main political and financial backer.

Commerce with China accounted for 70.1 percent of the North’s total $8 billion trade in 2011, up from 57 percent in the previous year, South Korea’s national statistics office, Statistics Korea, said in its annual report today in Seoul. North Korea does not report economic data. Inter-Korean trade amounted to about $1.71 billion in the same year.

China provides North Korea economic aid and serves as its diplomatic shield at the United Nations Security Council. As a veto-wielding permanent member of the Security Council, China has resisted efforts to impose fresh punishment against North Korean leader Kim Jong Un over a Dec. 12 missile launch that demonstrated a heightened ballistic capability.

Excluding a dip in 2009, trade between the two countries has increased every year since the start of 2000, when the statistics bureau started releasing estimates. Data for 2012 will be released around the end of next year.

North Korea’s economy expanded 0.8 percent in 2011 and gross national income per capita was 1.33 million won ($1,239), nearly one nineteenth that of South Korea’s 25 million won, according to the Bank of Korea. South Korea’s total nominal gross national income was 38.2 times that of the North’s 32.44 trillion won.

The regime imported 3.8 million barrels of crude oil for 2011. Power generation capacity was 6.9 million kilowatts, less than one-10th that of South Korea. Steel production was 1.23 million tons and production of chemical fertilizer production was 471,000 tons.

North Korea’s population rose to 24.3 million in 2011 from 24.2 million the previous year -- about half of South Korea’s. Population estimates were based on North Korea’s 1993 and 2008 censuses.

To contact the reporter on this story: Sangwon Yoon in Seoul at syoon32@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Peter Hirschberg at phirschberg@bloomberg.net


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