Bilateral trade between the Asian economic powerhouse and its isolated neighbor dropped to its lowest level in nine months, indicating that UN sanctions against North Korea are beginning to take a toll.
According to Chinese Customs Office data released on Thursday, trade between the two Asian countries fell to $334.9 million (€283 million) in October, its lowest since February. Volumes of exports and imports combined slumped by almost 20 percent, comparing unfavorably with a trade total of $525.2 million a year ago.
The Chinese data for October represents the first whole month since the latest United Nations penalties came into force on September 5, banning Pyongyang from selling coal, iron ore, lead, lead ore and seafood abroad.
In broke down figures, China bought goods worth $90.75 million from North Korea last month, down sharply from $145.8 million in September and the lowest on government records going back to January 2014. China's exports plunged to $244.2 million, the weakest since February.
Trade between the two countries has slowed, particularly after China banned coal purchases in February. The pace and scale of the drop suggest the most recent curbs are hurting Pyongyang's ability to sell some critical commodities to one of its chief trading partners.
The UN estimated the latest ban, imposed after its two intercontinental ballistic missile tests in July would slash North Korea's $3-billion annual export revenue by a third.
The data is also likely to underscore Beijing's strongly-stated stance that it is rigorously enforcing UN resolutions aimed at reining in Pyongyang's missile and nuclear programs.
The data comes as US President Donald Trump ramps up pressure on China's President Xi Jinping to tighten the screws further on Pyongyang, with steps such as limits on oil exports and financial transactions.
uhe/tr (Reuters, dpa)