March 11 (UPI) -- North Korea's trade deficit may have reached a new high in 2019, months before the country shut its borders and heavily restricted movement across the China border.
According to China's General Administration of Customs data, North Korea's trade deficit with the world's second-largest economy stood at about $2.35 billion last year, Voice of America reported Wednesday. The deficit marks an increase of $300 million from the previous year, the biggest spike in the deficit since 1998, the report says.
North Korea imports more from China than it exports. The trend may have increased since international sanctions against Pyongyang have banned the country from exceeding caps on certain exports, including coal and textiles.
In 2019, North Korea imported about $2.57 billion from China, while exporting only about $215.2 million of goods to its neighbor, Chinese data show.
Prior to sanctions, North Korea witnessed growth in textile exports in 2016, when the sector saw a $1.9 billion rise in trade with China.
Textile exports came under scrutiny the following year. In September 2017, United Nations Security Council sanctions Resolution 2375 banned member states from importing finished garments of North Korean origin. In December of the same year, Resolution 2397 prohibited countries from importing North Korean machinery, food and agricultural products.
North Korea's imports of Chinese goods have not declined and may have actually increased since sanctions, according to South Korean news service MoneyToday.
The United Nations allows goods such as tobacco and cereals for consumer use into the country. North Korea brings in the goods from China.
North Korea's decision to seal its border since the outbreak of the new strain of coronavirus may mean it is no longer able to earn foreign currency from incoming tourists.
In February, South Korean analyst Choi Ji-young said North Korea's trade deficit, combined with the country's isolation from the international market, has weakened the correlation between North Korea's exchange rate and the global currency market.