China and North Korea are believed to have agreed earlier this month to resume land trading, which related sources said has been suspended since fall 2020, in an effort to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.
The move may have been caused by Kim Jong Un’s regime, which wanted to secure supplies ahead of the anniversary events related to his father and grandfather this year. So far, Kim has been extremely cautious about resuming exchanges with other countries.
A person involved in the China-North Korea trade told The Yomiuri Shimbun that they had received a notice from North Korean officials to prepare to resume land trade by the end of January. The announcement was based on an agreement between the two countries and plans to move dairy products, medicines, toothpaste and other items by train between Dandong in China’s Liaoning Province and Sinuiju across the Yalu River in North Korea.
According to several sources, the two countries agreed to resume land trade in November last year. Implementation was delayed because China demanded a 14-day disinfection and quarantine period for goods imported from North Korea, while North Korea insisted on three days.
China is determined to continue quarantine measures in preparation for key events like the Beijing Winter Games, which will open in February. The person involved in the trade told The Yomiuri Shimbun that the problem was resolved but did not say what the two countries agreed on in terms of disinfection and quarantine time.
North Korea faces two important milestones this year: the 80th birthday of Kim Jong Il, Kim Jong Un’s father, in February; and the 110th anniversary of the birth of Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Un’s grandfather, in April.
According to trade statistics from Chinese customs authorities, North Korea’s imports from China amounted to around $ 225 million in the period from January to November last year, almost half less than in the same period last year. Compared to 2019 it was 90% less.
Some goods are currently imported from China via sea routes based in Nampo in western North Korea, but there is an urgent need to resume land trade for which transportation costs are lower.
Both China and North Korea are extremely suspicious of the Omicron variant of the novel coronavirus. Depending on the status of the pandemic, there is a possibility that both sides will postpone resuming trading again.
THE YOMIURI SHIMBUN (JAPAN) / ASIA NEWS NETWORK