Celebrating 25 Years of Scoop
Special: Up To 25% Off Scoop Pro Learn More

Search

 

Cablegate: Dprk Economy - 2008 Foreign Trade Figures

P 270102Z AUG 09
FM AMEMBASSY SEOUL
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5478
INFO DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC PRIORITY 1872
DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC PRIORITY
DEPT OF AGRICULTURE WASHDC PRIORITY
DEPT OF ENERGY WASHDC PRIORITY
DEPT OF HHS WASHDC PRIORITY
KOREA COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
AMEMBASSY SINGAPORE PRIORITY
AMCONSUL HONG KONG PRIORITY
AMCONSUL VLADIVOSTOK PRIORITY
AMEMBASSY BANGKOK PRIORITY
CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI PRIORITY
COMUSKOREA J5 SEOUL KOR PRIORITY
AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI PRIORITY

UNCLAS SEOUL 001374

SENSITIVE

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON ETRD ENRG KS KN
SUBJECT: DPRK ECONOMY - 2008 FOREIGN TRADE FIGURES

Ref: (A) 07 SEOUL 2286 (B) Seoul 4169


1. (U) This cable is sensitive but unclassified and not rpt not
intended for internet distribution.

2. (SBU) SUMMARY: According to data compiled by the (South) Korea
Trade and Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA) and the ROK Ministry
of Unification (MOU), DPRK foreign trade amounted to USD 5.64
billion in 2008, a 19 percent year-on-year increase, and reached the
highest level since 1991. DPRK exports totaled USD 2.06 billion, up
23 percent from 2007. DPRK imports reached USD 3.58 billion, a 17
percent year-on-year increase. This growth is primarily the result
of an increase in Chinese investment and an expansion of Sino-DPRK
trade. In 2008, the DPRK became more economically dependent on
China. Trade with China accounted for 49.5 percent of the DPRK's
total trade, up from 42 percent in 2007. Inter-Korean trade, which
grew by 1.2 percent, accounted for 32 percent of the DPRK's foreign
trade in 2008, down from 39 percent in 2007. The DPRK's trade
deficit rose to USD 1.5 billion in 2008, a record high. The DPRK's
top ten trading partners in order by volume were: China, South
Korea, Singapore, India, Russia, Brazil, Thailand, Germany, the
United States, and the Netherlands. U.S food aid volume of USD 52
million moved the United States onto this list. End Summary.

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading

Are you getting our free newsletter?

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.

3. (SBU) Explanatory Notes -- (South) Korea Trade and Investment
Promotion Agency (KOTRA), a branch of the Ministry of Knowledge
Economy (MKE), compiles DPRK trade data using statistics from the
DPRK's trading partners. Its figures do not include inter-Korean
trade as the ROKG officially considers North-South trade as domestic
transactions.

-- Inter-Korean trade figures compiled by the ROK Ministry of
Unification (MOU) have been included in the 'trade by country' data
below (paragraphs 5 and 6). Due to the MOU's different system of
categorizing data, however, inter-Korean trade figures by product
category are not included in the 'trade by product' section
(paragraphs 20-24).

-- Unless otherwise noted, all percentage changes in this report are
year-on-year.

------------------
DPRK FOREIGN TRADE
------------------

4. (SBU) Despite international concerns over its nuclear weapons
program, the global financial crisis, and unstable international
grain markets, the DPRK continued to expand its foreign trade in
2008. The largest contributing factors include:

-- An increase in the price of the DPRK's mineral fuel imports,
which include crude oil and refined oil products, due to the rising
price of crude oil;
-- Increased exports of raw materials and finished goods to the ROK
through the Kaesong Industrial Complex (KIC);
-- An increase in the DPRK's textile imports as part of the
government's attempt to revitalize the country's light industries;
-- An increase in the DPRK's iron ore exports to China;
-- Expanded trade with Singapore;
-- Food aid shipments, particularly from the United States;
-- An increase in the DPRK's import of Chinese machinery and
electric equipment.


DPRK TRADE PER ANNUM
--------------------
(USD MILLION, PERCENT)

DPRK EXPORTS DPRK IMPORTS TOTAL TRADE
------------ ------------ -----------
YR VALUE CHANGE VALUE CHANGE TOTAL CHANGE

91 951 (45.5) 1,745 32.7) 2,696 (38.0)
92 944 (0.7) 1,785 2.3 2,729 1.2
93 998 5.7 1,834 2.7 2,832 3.8
94 876 (12.2) 1,418 22.7) 2,294 (19.0)
95 800 (8.7) 1,539 8.5 2,339 2.0
96 797 (0.4) 1,432 (7.0) 2,229 (4.7)
97 1,020 28.0 1,465 2.3 2,485 11.5
98 689 (32.5) 975 (33.4) 1,664 (33.0)
99 727 5.5 1,087 11.5 1,814 9.0
00 839 15.4 1,559 43.4 2,398 32.2
01 877 4.5 1,796 15.2 2,673 11.5
02 1,106 26.1 1,796 0.0 2,902 8.6
03 1,212 9.6 1,903 6.0 3,115 7.3
04 1,278 5.0 2,276 19.6 3,554 14.0
05 1,338 5.0 2,719 19.5 4,057 14.0
06 1,466 10.0 2,879 5.9 4,345 7.0
07 1,684 14.9 3,055 6.1 4,739 9.0
08 2,062 22.5 3,574 17.0 5,636 18.9

(SOURCE: KOTRA AND MOU DATA)
Note: Figures in parentheses indicate negative growth.


---------------------
DPRK TRADE BY COUNTRY
---------------------

5. (SBU) In 2008, the DPRK's top ten trading partners were: China,
South Korea, Singapore, India, Russia, Brazil, Thailand, Germany,
the United States, and the Netherlands. China accounted for nearly
half of the DPRK's foreign trade, deepening the DPRK's dependence on
China. While inter-Korean trade grew in absolute terms, the ROK's
share of DPRK foreign trade dropped from 38 percent in 2007 to 32
percent in 2008. This decline in the importance of North-South
trade follows the chilling of inter-Korean relations that has taken
place since ROK President Lee Myung-bak's inauguration in February
of 2008. The DPRK's trade deficit with China expanded from USD 811
million in 2007 to USD 1.3 billion, strengthening Chinese influence
over the country. U.S. food aid shipments (143,000 metric tons (mt)
of wheat, corn, and beans) resulted in the United States becoming
the DPRK's ninth largest trading partner. DPRK exports to Japan,
which had been declining since 2006, fell to zero as a result of
Japan's implementation of economic sanctions in 2007. The ten
aforementioned nations accounted for 93.4 percent of the DPRK's
foreign trade, slightly down from 95 percent in 2007. The DPRK's
trade with China and the ROK accounted for nearly 82 percent of its
total trade.

6. (SBU) The following is a breakdown of trade between the DPRK and
its top ten trading partners:

---------------------------------------
DPRK'S TOP TEN TRADING PARTNERS IN 2008
---------------------------------------

(USD MILLION, PERCENT)

DPRK EXPORTS IMPORTS TOTAL SHARE BALANCE

1. CHINA 754 2,033 2,787.0 49.5 (1,279.0)
2. S. KOREA 932 888 1,820.0 32.0 44.0
3. SINGAPORE 0.3 120 120.3 2.1 (120.0)
4. INDIA 67 53 120.0 2.1 13.8
5. RUSSIA 13.5 97 110.5 2.0 (83.5)
6. BRAZIL 38 43 81 1.4 (4.2)
7. THAILAND 29 48 77 1.4 (18.8)
8. GERMANY 20.9 31.5 52.4 0.9 (10.6)
9. USA 0 52.2 52.2 0.9 (52.2)
10.NETHERLANDS 26 16.8 42.8 0.8 (9.2)

SUB-TOTAL 1,881.4 3,382 5,264 93.4 (1,501)

TOTAL 2,062 3,574 5,636 100.0 (1,512)
FOREIGN
TRADE

(SOURCE: KOTRA AND MOU)

CHINA
-----

7. (SBU) The DPRK grew economically more dependent on China as the
country slipped deeper into international isolation, a result of
sanctions imposed on it by the United Nations Security Council in
light of its continued development of nuclear weapons. Sino-DPRK
trade grew by 41 percent to USD 2.8 billion, a record high. DPRK
exports to China rose by 30 percent to USD 754 million, while its
imports from China grew by 46 percent to USD 2.03 billion, marking
the highest rate of growth in the last ten years. The DPRK's
increasing dependence on Chinese crude oil and textiles resulted in
the DPRK's trade deficit with China rising to USD 1.3 billion.
According to the KOTRA, the primary causes of this trend are as
follows:

-- The impact of economic sanctions imposed by the international
community in light of its continued nuclear weapons program, the
DPRK must now import more goods from China;
-- China is geographically adjacent to the DPRK; and
-- Chinese goods are relatively inexpensive.

8. (SBU) Major DPRK exports to China included: iron ore, mineral
fuels (mainly coal), steel, apparel, fishery products, and aluminum.
DPRK iron ore exports rose by 116 percent to USD 172 million, but
wood and zinc exports dropped by 68 percent and 56 percent,
respectively. While the volume of the DPRK's coal exports to China
declined by 32.2 percent (totaling 2.5 million mt), the value of
DPRK coal exports to China were up by 24 percent, amounting to USD
201 million in 2008, up from USD 163 million in 2007. Major DPRK
imports from China included: crude oil and refined oil products,
machinery, electrical equipment, textiles, plastics, and apparel.
The DPRK's import of Chinese grain, however, dropped from 136,000 mt
in 2007 to 119,000 mt in 2008, a 12.5 percent decline. The DPRK's
import of Chinese rice fell from 80,741 mt in 2007 to 20,079 mt in
2008, a 75 percent decline. The DPRK's import of Chinese corn
jumped to 97,606 mt in 2008, an 82 percent increase over the 53,699
mt imported in 2007. The DPRK's import of Chinese fertilizer fell
from 60,460 mt in 2007 to 31,633 mt in 2008, a 48 percent decline.
Despite this decline in volume, rising fertilizer prices drove the
value of the DPRK's Chinese fertilizer imports up by 37.5 percent.


DPRK GRAIN IMPORTS FROM CHINA
-----------------------------
(Unit: USD 1,000, METRIC TON, GROWTH IN PERCENT)

VALUE VOLUME
----- ------
2007 2008 Growth 2007 2008 Growth
---- ---- ------ ---- ---- ------
Barley 8 160 1,900 28 390 1,293
Corn 10,178 27,637 17 53,688 97,606 82
Rice 25,764 6,721 (74) 80,741 20,079 (75)
Millet 1 30 2,90 4 67 1,575
Others 560 327 (42) 1,547 800 (48)

TOTAL 36,511 34,875 (4.5) 136,008 118,942 (12.5)


DPRK MINERAL FUEL IMPORTS FROM CHINA
------------------------------------
(Unit: USD 1,000, METRIC TON, PERCENT)

VALUE VOLUME
----- ------
ITEM 2007 2008 Growth 2007 2008 Growth
---- ---- ------ ---- ---- ------

Crude Oil 281,979 414,310 46.9 523,160 528,577 1.0
Coal 19,994 44,437 122.3 528,577 231,804 2.0
Refined Oil 95,407 120,073 25.9 147,679 117,743 (20.3)
Products

TOTAL 397,380 578,820 45.7 1,199,416 878,124 (26.8)

Note: Figures in parentheses indicate negative growth.


SOUTH KOREA
-----------

9. (SBU) Inter-Korean trade grew by 27.8 percent in 2006, 33.2
percent in 2007, and 1.2 percent in 2008, reaching USD 1.82 billion
by the end of last year. DPRK exports to the ROK grew to USD 932
million in 2008, a 22 percent year-on-year rise, while DPRK imports
from the ROK fell to USD 888 million, a 14 percent year-on-year
decline. The ROK's Ministry of Unification attributes the modest
growth in overall trade to the appreciation of the U.S. dollar,
implicitly highlighting the DPRK's hard currency shortage. Despite
recording trade deficits with most of its major trading partners,
the DPRK managed to achieve a USD 44 million trade surplus with the
ROK in 2008.

10. (SBU) In 2008, commercial transactions between the two Koreas
increased by 20 percent to USD 1.7 billion, while non-commercial
transactions, which consisted primarily of shipments of ROK
humanitarian aid to the DPRK, fell precipitously. In the past, the
ROK has sent around 300,000 mt of fertilizer and 400,000-500,000 mt
of rice annually to the DPRK; however, due to a chilling of
inter-Korean relations, no such shipments were sent in 2008. Due to
the double counting of outbound and inbound shipments of materials
used in processing-on-commission (POC) and to the double counting of
unfinished goods produced in the Kaesong Industrial Complex (KIC),
inter-Korean trade data may not be accurate. Major DPRK exports to
the ROK included: textiles and garments produced in the KIC,
agricultural and fishery products, minerals, and electric machinery
parts manufactured by ROK firms in the DPRK. Major DPRK imports
from the ROK included: raw materials used to manufacture textiles in
the KIC, machinery, steel and metal products. The following is a
breakdown of inter-Korean trade goods by category:


DPRK EXPORTS TO THE ROK
-----------------------
(Unit: USD 1,000, GROWTH IN PERCENT)

ITEM 2007 2008 GROWTH
---- ---- ---- ------
Textiles 190,541 324,831 70.5
Agricultural/Fishery 184,189 207,914 12.9
Minerals 120,796 99,787 (17.4)
Electric/Electronic 38,335 94,687 147.0
Steel/Metal 165,938 88,192 (46.4)
Machinery 35,887 59,108 64.7
Household Goods 18,912 38,991 106.2
Plastics/Rubber 4,764 10,961 130.1
Chemicals 4,589 6,418 39.9
Miscellaneous 1,395 640 (54.1)

TOTAL 765,346 932,250 21.8


DPRK IMPORTS FROM THE ROK
-------------------------
(Unit: USD 1,000, GROWTH IN PERCENT)

ITEM 2007 2008 GROWTH
---- ---- ---- ------
Textiles 214,149 210,035 23.6
Machinery 136,290 157,385 15.5
Steel/Metal 97,123 139,007 43.1
Electric/Electronic 103,012 121,719 18.2
Agricultural/Fishery 137,382 78,239 (43.1)
Chemicals 203,000 68,874 (66.1)
Minerals 79,443 45,528 (42.7)
Household Goods 32,688 35,687 9.2
Plastics/Rubber 21,800 29,996 37.6
Miscellaneous 7,662 1,647 (78.5)
TOTAL 1,032,550 888,117 (14.0)

(SOURCE: MOU)
Note: Figures in parentheses indicate negative growth.

SINGAPORE
---------

11. (SBU) The DPRK's trade with Singapore rose by 116.2 percent to
USD 120.3 million in 2008, making Singapore the DPRK's third largest
trading partner; however, trade with Singapore accounted for only
2.1 percent of total DPRK trade. This marked increase in
DPRK-Singapore trade was mainly due the DPRK's increased importation
of Singaporean goods. DPRK exports to Singapore dropped by 68
percent to USD 0.3 million, while DPRK imports of Singaporean goods
rose 120 percent to USD 120 million. Major DPRK exports to
Singapore included shell fish products, seeds, and electric
machinery. Major DPRK imports from Singapore included minerals,
tobacco, paper, and nonwoven fabrics. DPRK imports of Singaporean
refined petroleum products increased eleven fold in 2008, going from
USD 365,000 to USD 41.6 million. KOTRA analyses suggests that this
dramatic increase is due to the fact that third countries were able
to export refined petroleum products to the DPRK via Singapore and
that these third country transactions were included in Singapore's
total exports to the DPRK. DPRK imports of Singaporean tobacco
increased to USD 25 million, a 45.4 percent rise.

INDIA
------

12. (SBU) The DPRK's trade with India fell by 4.9 percent to USD
120.2 million. DPRK exports to India dropped by 26 percent to USD
67 million, while DPRK imports of Indian goods rose by 49 percent to
USD 53.3 million. Major DPRK exports to India included steel,
machinery, and precious metals. Exports of DPRK plastics, which had
previously been the DPRK's top export, fell from USD 13 million in
2007 to USD 3.5 million in 2008, a 73 percent year-on-year decline.
Major DPRK imports from India included organic chemicals, sugar, and
zinc.

RUSSIA
------

13. (SBU) The DPRK's trade with Russia fell 31 percent to USD 110.5
million in 2008, the third consecutive year of decline. DPRK
exports to Russia plummeted by 60 percent to USD 13.5 million.
Major DPRK exports to Russia included electric equipment, machinery,
and glass. There was a notable increase in the DPRK's export of
steel to Russia, which grew by 677 percent to USD 0.7 million.
Russian exports to the DPRK declined by 23 percent to USD 97
million. Major DPRK imports from Russia included: minerals, pulp,
used paper, and machinery. Due to the DPRK's shortage of hard
currency and rising oil prices, DPRK imports of refined Russian oil
products fell from USD 70.2 million in 2007 to USD 26.4 million in
2008, a 62.4 percent decline.

BRAZIL
------

14. (SBU) Trade between the DPRK and Brazil rose by 19.8 percent to
USD 81 million. DPRK exports to Brazil rose by 12.7 percent to USD
38.3 million and consisted mostly of rubber, optical goods, medical
devices, and inorganic chemicals. DPRK imports from Brazil rose by
27 percent to USD 42.5 million and consisted mostly of tobacco,
mineral ore, seeds, fruits, organic chemicals, and wooden products.
DPRK imports of Brazilian coffee increased by 1,893 percent to USD
2.5 million.

THAILAND
---------

15. (SBU) The DPRK's trade with Thailand fell by 66.4 percent to USD
76.8 million. DPRK exports to Thailand fell by 20 percent to USD 29
million, DPRK imports from Thailand fell by 75 percent to USD 47.8
million. DPRK grain imports from Thailand totaled 14,000 mt in
2008, down from 250,000 mt of rice in 2007. It should be noted that
in 2007 50 percent of ROKG rice assistance to the DPRK was sourced
in Thailand.

GERMANY
-------

16. (SBU) In 2008, the DPRK's trade with Germany grew by 2.1
percent, amounting to USD 52.4 million. DPRK exports to Germany
rose by 44.4 percent to USD 20.9 million. DPRK imports from Germany
fell by 14 percent to USD 31.5 million.

UNITED STATES
-------------

17. (SBU) The DPRK's overall trade with the United States
skyrocketed to USD 51.2 million, a 2,918 percent increase. This
significant rise in bilateral trade can be primarily attributed to
USG food aid shipments to the DPRK as part of the humanitarian aid
protocol that both countries agreed to in May of 2008. The United
States shipped USD 52.2 million worth of wheat, corn, and beans to
the DPRK in 2008(143,330 mt).

THE NETHERLANDS
---------------

18. (SBU) The DPRK's trade with the Netherlands grew by 53.4 percent
to USD 42.8 million. DPRK exports to the Netherlands rose by 115
percent to USD 26 million, while DPRK imports from the Netherlands
rose by 6 percent to USD 16.8 million.

--------------------------------
DPRK TRADE BY COUNTRY AND REGION
--------------------------------

19. (SBU) The following is a breakdown of DPRK trade in 2008 by
country and region:

(USD 1,000, CHANGE IN PERCENT)

DPRK EXPORTS DPRK IMPORTS TOTAL CHANGE

ASIA & 1,871,633 3,208,364 5,079,997 18.9
OCEANIA
-------
CHINA 754,046 2,033,233 2,787,279 41.2
S. KOREA 932,250 888,117 1,820,367 1.2
SINGAPORE 331 120,024 120,355 116.2
INDIA 67,020 53,180 120,200 (4.9)
THAILAND 28,998 47,772 76,770 (66.4)
HONG KONG 31,710 8,604 40,314 129.1
TAIWAN 13,214 15,578 28,792 15.5
BANGLADESH 12,952 8,855 21,807 N/A
MALAYSIA 1,657 17,543 19,200 113.5
INDONESIA 7,950 6,957 14,907 380.0
PAKISTAN 13,467 253 13,720 (13.1)
JAPAN -0- 7,664 7,664 (17.7)
AUSTRALIA 6,342 -0- 6,342 (14.6)
NEPAL 1,361 418 1,779 N/A
SRI LANKA 116 99 215 (51.0)
FIJI 181 29 210 N/A
MONGOLIA 38 22 60 N/A
LAOS -0- -0- 16 N/A

EUROPE &
CIS 94,328 192,988 287,316 (8.0)
-------
RUSSIA 13,519 97,005 110,524 (30.8)
GERMANY 20,893 31,460 52,353 2.1
NETHERLANDS 25,975 16,775 42,750 53.4
ITALY 3,669 8,777 12,446 22.3
UKRAINE 8,325 2,153 10,478 40.5
BELGIUM 4,425 5,107 9,532 170.0
FRANCE 1,144 6,733 7,877 68.3
UK 6,021 379 6,400 (57.7)
DENMARK 340 5,010 5,350 (29.1)
POLAND 253 4,725 4,978 256.1
SWITZERLAND 190 3,892 4,082 25.8
SPAIN 1,704 1,966 3,670 (30.1)
TURKEY 3,341 280 3,621 14,384.0
AUSTRIA 215 2,886 3,101 (35.5)
SLOVAKIA 400 1,824 2,224 2,865.3
CZECH REPUBLIC 347 1,319 1,666 1,065.0
GREECE 1,012 176 1,188 33.9
SWEDEN 42 788 830 (37.2)
SLOVENIA 300 494 794 (7.5)
CROATIA 658 29 687 43.4
KAZAKHSTAN 647 0 647 (59.1)
ROMANIA 166 411 577 (18.2)
BULGARIA 345 114 459 33.4
HUNGARY 117 314 431 (84.9)
FINLAND 42 364 406 45.0
LUXEMBOURG 123 0 123 6.0
LITHUANIA 71 0 71 (30.4)
CYPRUS 34 0 34 (78.2)
MALTA 2 7 9 NA
ESTONIA 4 0 4 100.0
IRELAND 4 0 4 (95.2)

NORTH, SOUTH
AMERICA 83,969 153,112 237,081 110.2
-------
BRAZIL 38,329 42,527 80,856 19.8
USA -0- 52,151 52,151 2,918.0
CANADA 103 21,212 21,315 12.6
COLOMBIA 15,510 817 16,327 N/A
ARGENTINA 8,501 7,360 15,861 N/A
COSTARICA 7,348 4,870 12,218 N/A
MEXICO 7,233 3,061 10,294 (33.1)
GUATEMALA 120 9,626 9,746 N/A
CUBA 3,000 3,000 6,000 -0-
CHILE 281 7,676 7,957 N/A
PERU 2,680 330 3,010 (7.3)

DOMINICA 864 482 1,346 N/A

ME /AFRICA 12,533 19,131 31,664 (9.3)
----------
SOUTH AFRICA 3,449 19,029 22,478 76.7
LEBANON 7,612 -0- 7,612 N/A
NIGERIA 1,440 -0- 1,440 N/A
TANZANIA 32 102 134 318.8

GRAND
TOTAL 2,062,463 3,573,595 5,636,058 18.9

NOTE: The above list is incomplete and, due to insufficient data,
does not include all of the DPRK's trading partners. "NA" indicates
that there were no recorded transactions in 2007.


-------------------------------
DPRK TRADE: EXPORTS AND IMPORTS
-------------------------------

Exports
-------

20. (SBU) DPRK exports totaled USD 1.1 billion in 2008, a 23 percent
year-on-year increase. This figure does not include inter-Korean
trade. Except for chemicals, plastics, and wooden products, most
DPRK exports experienced positive growth in 2008. The growth of
DPRK exports can be primarily attributed to the high international
price of raw materials, improved DPRK production facilities,
improved supply of electricity, and favorable weather conditions.

21. (SBU) Mineral products (iron ore and coal) were the DPRK's most
important exports, accounting for 41.3 percent of total DPRK
exports. Since 2003, the DPRK has focused on exporting manufactured
goods and has attempted to reinvigorate its light-industrial sector,
but has failed to restructure its export sector or significantly
boost its light industrial production. DPRK exports of mineral
products and non-ferrous metals totaled 58.1 percent of all DPRK
exports in 2008. Almost all (94.2 percent) of the DPRK's mineral
products were exported to China in 2008. Other major DPRK exports
included textiles, chemicals, and plastics. DPRK exports of
precious metals skyrocketed to USD 35 million, a 1,499 percent
year-on-year rise.

22. (SBU) The following is a breakdown of DPRK exports in 2008 by
product category. The following data does not include inter-Korean
trade.

DPRK EXPORTS BY PRODUCT CATEGORY
--------------------------------
(USD 1,000, GROWTH IN PERCENT)

2007 2008
DPRK EXPORTS VALUE SHARE VALUE SHARE GROWTH
------------ ----- ----- ----- ----- ------
MINERALS 349,581 38.0 466,544 41.3 33.5
NON-FERROUS METALS 154,953 16.9 190,369 16.8 22.9
GARMENTS 109,312 11.9 120,248 10.6 10.0
MISCELLANEOUS 97,610 10.6 88,576 7.8 (9.3)
CHEMICALS/PLASTICS 87,081 9.5 85,499 7.6 (1.8)
MACHINERY/ELECTRIC/ 55,566 6.0 79,359 7.0 42.8
ELECTRONICS
ANIMAL PRODUCTS 30,430 3.3 40,743 3.6 33.9
PRECIOUS METAL 2,191 0.2 35,023 3.1 1,498.5
FRUIT AND VEGETABLE 11,498 1.3 15,877 1.4 38.1
PRODUCTS
WOOD PRODUCTS 20,549 2.2 7,975 0.7 (61.2)

SUB-TOTAL 918,771 100.0 1,130,213 100.0 23.0
(EXCLUDING INTER-
KOREAN TRADE)

TOTAL 1,684,117 2,062,463 22.5
(INCLUDING INTER-
KOREAN TRADE)

SOURCE: KOTRA AND MOU

Imports
-------
23. (SBU) The DPRK's imports grew to USD 2.7 billion in 2008, a 32.8
percent year-on-year increase. This figure does not include
inter-Korean trade. Major DPRK imports included: minerals
(including crude oil and refined petroleum products), textiles,
electric equipment, machinery, animal fats, and processed food.
DPRK textile imports rose by 76.4 percent in 2008. DPRK textile
imports came mostly from China, Netherlands, and Singapore. This
significant rise in textile imports is primarily due to the
modernization of DPRK garment factories and the rise of
Processing-on-Commission trade between the DPRK and China.
24. (SBU) The following is a breakdown of major DPRK imports in
2008:

DPRK IMPORTS BY PRODUCT CATEGORY
--------------------------------
(USD 1,000, PERCENT)
2007 2008
DPRK IMPORTS VALUE SHARE VALUE SHARE GROWTH
------------ ----- ----- ----- ----- ------
MINERALS/FUEL 491,350 24.3 694,839 25.9 41.4
MISCELLANEOUS 174,163 8.6 322,638 12.0 85.3
TEXTILES 180,755 8.9 318,848 11.9 76.4
MACHINERY/ELECTRIC 242,414 12.0 309,246 11.5 27.6
ELECTRONIC
ANIMAL FATS/ 148,033 7.3 236,613 8.8 59.8
PROCESSED FOOD
CHEMICALS 144,997 7.2 202,484 7.5 39.6
NON-FERROUS METALS 138,796 6.9 176,729 6.6 27.3
FRUIT AND VEGETABLE 195,887 9.7 155,733 5.8 (20.5)
PRODUCTS
PLASTICS 128,907 6.4 130,637 4.9 1.3
VEHICLES 102,101 5.0 92,698 3.5 (9.2)
ANIMAL PRODUCTS 74,903 3.7 46,013 1.7 (38.6)

SUB-TOTAL 2,022,306 100.0 2,686,478 100.0 32.8
(EXCLUDING INTER-
KOREAN TRADE)

TOTAL 3,054,856 3,573,595 17.0
(INCLUDING INTER-
KOREAN TRADE)

SOURCE: KOTRA


------------------------
DPRK'S CRUDE OIL IMPORTS
------------------------
25. (SBU) DPRK imports of Chinese crude oil rose by 1 percent to
529,000 mt in 2008, up from 523,000 mt in 2007. Due to rising
international oil prices, the value of the DPRK's oil imports rose
by 47 percent to USD 414 million in 2008, up from USD 282 million in
2007.

DPRK CRUDE OIL IMPORTS BY COUNTRY
---------------------------------
(1,000 METRIC TONS)

YEAR CHINA THAILAND LIBYA YEMEN IRAN RUSSIA SYRIA TOTAL
---- ----- -------- ----- ----- ---- ------ ----- -----
2000 389 ND ND ND ND ND ND 389
2001 579 ND ND ND ND ND ND 579
2002 472 ND ND ND ND 125 ND 597
2003 574 ND ND ND ND ND ND 574
2004 532 81 ND ND ND ND ND 613
2005 523 0 0 0 0 0 0 523
2006 524 0 0 0 0 0 0 524
2007 523 0 0 0 0 0 0 523
2008 529 ND ND ND ND ND ND 529

NOTE -- KOTRA does not provide full data for the DPRK's refined oil
imports. DPRK imports of refined oil products from Russia fell by
62.4 percent to USD 26.4 million in 2008, down from 70.2 million in
2007.
-- "ND" indicates that, though trade may have taken place, data is
insufficient.


--------------------
DPRK'S GRAIN IMPORTS
--------------------

26. (SBU) The ROK's Rural Development Administration estimates that
the DPRK produced 4.31 million mt of grain and staple foods in 2008,
a 7.6 percent increase from 4.01 million mt in 2007. This increase
can be attributed to drier weather conditions during the final
months of the growing season, which in some years has been
characterized by heavy rains. Despite this increase, the DPRK
needed an additional 600,000 mt to feed its population. In the
past, the ROKG sent an average of 400,000 - 500,000 mt of rice
annually to the DPRK, but, due to a chilling of inter-Korean
relations, no such shipments were made in 2008.

27. (SBU) Total DPRK grain imports -- including those imported as
humanitarian aid -- fell by 25.6 percent in 2008 to 282,000 mt.
This decline is due to the DPRK's shortage of hard currency, rising
world grain prices, and the Chinese government's food security
policy. (The Chinese government has implemented an export tariff on
grain, introduced a grain export quota system, and employed a series
of regulations meant to curb the exportation of Chinese grain.) The
DPRK's main sources of grain imports in 2008 were China with 119,000
mt and Thailand with 14,000 mt.

DPRK GRAIN IMPORTS BY COUNTRY
-----------------------------
(1,000 METRIC TONS)

YEAR CHINA SYRIA THAILAND CANADA JAPAN EU OTHERS TOTAL

2000 283 ND 284 ND 106 40 512 1,225
2001 436 -0- ND ND 50 22 437 1,400
2002 219 ND 200 ND ND ND 586 1,005
2003 349 ND 95 51 ND 10 304 809
2004 90 ND 184 ND ND 3 304 581
2005 327 ND 10 14 ND 15 404 860
2006 79 ND 2 ND ND ND 19 100
2007 136 ND 212 1 ND ND 30 379
2008 119 ND 14 ND 20 ND 129 282

NOTE: "OTHERS" includes donations through the World Food Program and
non-governmental organizations. "ND" indicates that, though trade
may have taken place, data is insufficient.


-------
COMMENT
-------

28. (SBU) KOTRA has been compiling DPRK trade statistics for many
years, but has gradually cut back on the number of staff involved in
the effort. KOTRA now has only two individuals, also members of the
Chinese Business Corps, assigned to this task. KOTRA relies almost
entirely on its overseas offices to supply it with mirror image
bilateral DPRK trade statistics based on host country customs data.
Thus, the figures are rough and not fully reflective of the current
state of DPRK trade. Critics of the KOTRA data have particularly
pointed to a lack of data on DPRK trade with Middle Eastern
countries as a weak spot. Other gaps in the analysis are unreported
Sino-DPRK border trade and the DPRK's illicit trading activities.

29. (SBU) Despite the uncertainties associated with DPRK trade and
the imperfections of the KOTRA data, certain points are clear.
Total DPRK foreign trade rose by 19 percent to USD 5.64 billion in
2008, in spite of the global financial crisis and instability in
world grain markets. DPRK trade remained dependent on the
production of primary goods and Sino-DPRK trade accounted for nearly
50 percent of the DPRK's total foreign trade in 2008, up from 42
percent in 2007. While a number of factors contribute to this
growing dominance of China in DPRK trade, it is increasingly evident
that China holds the key to economic leverage over the DPRK. The
chilling of inter-Korean relations slowed the development of trade
in 2008 and the ROK share of the DPRK's foreign trade fell from 38
percent in 2007 to 32.3 percent. Furthermore, inter-Korean trade
through the first seven months of 2009 is lower in absolute terms
than in 2008. Lastly, DPRK foreign trade faces tougher external
conditions in 2009 because of both the global economic slowdown and
the UNSC sanctions imposed against the DPRK following the country's
second nuclear test in May.

TOKOLA

© Scoop Media

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading
 
 
 
World Headlines

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Join Our Free Newsletter

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.