Trade Figures Show North Korea’s Growing Reliance on China

New trade data released by South Korea shows that North Korea is becoming increasingly dependent on China for its economic needs.

The Korea International Trade Association said Wednesday that North Korea-China trade rose 32 percent last year to more than $3.46 billion. That is almost double the $1.91 billion in trade between North and South Korea, which was up by 14 percent from 2009.

China has always been North Korea’s most important ally and provider of essential goods. But trade between the two Koreas increased during a period of improved relations under former South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun and was almost equal to the North Korea-China trade in 2007.

The ratio has fallen steadily since President Lee Myung Bak came to power insisting on a tougher line toward North Korea. Last year’s increase in inter-Korean trade resulted mainly from increased production at a joint industrial complex at Kaesong in North Korea.

Already chilly relations between the two Koreas plunged after a South Korean warship was sunk by a torpedo in March of last year. Tensions rose further after North Korean forces shelled a South Korean island in November. voa

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