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North Korea imports from China on the rise, Chinese data show

North Korea continues to leave land-based trade routes closed in response to the coronavirus pandemic. File Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI
North Korea continues to leave land-based trade routes closed in response to the coronavirus pandemic. File Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI | License Photo

July 19 (UPI) -- North Korea imported more than $10 million of goods in June, an increase from the previous month, according to data from the Chinese government.

Trade statistics published by China's General Administration of Customs on Sunday showed North Korea imported about $12.32 million of goods from China last month, Yonhap reported.

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The uptick in activity is nowhere near pre-pandemic levels of trade, however. Two-way trade in June reached only 6% of June 2019 levels, the report said.

North Korean trade with China began to dip after April, when the country imported $28.75 million of goods. North Korean imports plunged to $2.71 million in May, before rising again in June. Trade could be taking place primarily via ships, the report said.

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North Korea continues to leave land-based trade routes closed in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Last month, during an expanded meeting of the Politburo of central committee of the Korean Workers' Party, Kim Jong Un said a "grave incident" that could threaten the country's "anti-epidemic efforts" had taken place and fired officials.

South Korea's national intelligence said on July 8 the "grave incident" might have been a reference to a "major incident" at a North Korean quarantine facility in Uiju, North Pyongan Province. Disinfection stations for incoming deliveries from China were mismanaged and imports of rice had been subsequently delayed, the spy agency had said, according to Yonhap.

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Kim had warned of a "tense" food shortage last month, citing floods and other natural disasters, but the pandemic and the subsequent closure of North Korea's borders are believed to have had an impact on food supply and prices.

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Extreme weather and a record temperature of 101 degrees Fahrenheit were reported Monday.

Pyongyang's Korea Central Television reported an extreme heat warning is in effect nationwide until Saturday, with an atmospheric humidity of 70% or more.

Crops including rice are likely to be affected by the heat, according to KCTV.

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