North Korea Sanctions Reduce Trade to Worst in Twenty Years

Ben Cho, July 23, 2018, 10:46 a.m.


North Korea suffered its worst economic performance in 20 years last year as international sanctions proved effective. The Bank of Korea said Friday North Korea's economy shrank an estimated 3.5 percent last year, the worst performance since the famine of 1997.

Shin Seung-cheol at the BOK said, "Sanctions against North Korea last year were far more severe than in previous years. North Korea was banned from exporting products, resulting in a sharp decline in trade."

North Korea's trade excluding exchanges with South Korea stood at US$5.55 billion, down 15 percent from 2016. Exports plunged 37 percent to $1.77 billion. Inter-Korean trade totaled only $900,000, down 99.7 percent from the previous year due to the closure of the Kaesong Industrial Complex in early 2016.

Major North Korean industries all posted negative growth due to international sanctions exacerbated by a drought. The mining industry shrank 11 percent as coal output dwindled markedly. The heavy chemicals industry suffered the worst contraction in 20 years at 10.4 percent.

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