N Korean economy hit hard by international sanctions

Seoul : A series of international sanctions will likely hit the economy of North Korea into a deeper slump this year and worsen the living conditions of its citizens sharply, according to a report published on Wednesday.

Lee Suk, a senior researcher at the state-run Korea Development Institute (KDI) and one of the report’s authors, said the international sanctions clearly dented North Korea’s trade last year, stalling its industrial activity and agricultural output.

“The impact of the sanctions doesn’t appear to have spilled over into the market yet, but there is a possibility that North Korea may suffer further setbacks in production, trade and consumption, sharply aggravating the welfare of economic actors,” Suk was quoted by Yonhap news agency as saying.

Kim Young-hoon of the Korea Rural Economic Institute estimated that North Korea’s grain output for 2017 fell to 4.71 million tons, which was a drop by 2 percent from the previous year.

“Pyongyang’s farm production didn’t increase last year, despite a series of agricultural reform measures since 2012. It is difficult to paint a positive picture of North Korea’s food supply and demand this year,” Kim said.

North Korea’s coal exports to China, its chief economically fell over 75 percent in 2017, with their dollar value tumbling down to 66 percent, according to Lee Jong-kyu, a KDI researcher.

“The plunge contributed nearly 80 percent to the decrease in the value of North Korean trade with China last year,” Lee said, predicting tougher international sanctions will give Pyongyang less leeway in its policy options this year.

Lee Suk-ki, a researcher at the Korea Institute for Industrial Economics and Trade, estimated that North Korea’s mining, agricultural and construction sectors almost came to a halt in 2017, compared with the previous year.

“The sectors’ slack or weaker activity probably resulted from a severe drought, a decline in trade stemming from international economic sanctions and a correction following the previous year’s push to ramp up production”, Suk-ki said.

The United States and United Nations have imposed tough sanctions on North Korea, owing to its persistent ballistic missile tests last year.

Most recently, US President Donald Trump on Friday slapped new sanctions on North Korea, targeting 56 vessels, shipping companies and trade businesses, of which Chinese firms and personnel are involved.

It also included a Taiwanese citizen named Tsang Yung Yuan in the list, who has coordinated North Korea coal exports with a Russia-based North Korean broker. Tsang has a record of sanctions evasion activities, according to the US Treasury Department.

In an advisory, the Treasury Department, the US State Department and the US Coast Guard, have also warned the public of significant sanctions they could face if they help to enable any shipments of goods to and from North Korea. (ANI)