Market conditions worsen in Sinuiju following crackdowns on both sides of the border

Kim Sung Il  |  2018-02-02 15:23
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North Korean ships in the Yalu River. Image: Daily NK

Economic conditions are reportedly worsening in the North Koreas border city of Sinuiju due to the intensification of international sanctions enforcement by China.

"More people are complaining of difficulties due to overland imports having decreased considerably, and the Chinese authorities are also cracking down on smuggling ships," a source in Sinuiju told Daily NK on January 29.  

The United Nations Security Council passed a series of sanctions resolutions over the past year which have increased the number of restrictions on North Korea's imports and exports, including limiting oil supplies and leading to a blockade of maritime trade in and out of the country.

China's participation in enforcing these sanctions has had a significant impact. According to Chinese customs statistics from December 2017, their exports into North Korea decreased 81.6% and imports from North Korea decreased 23.4% compared to the same time in December last year.

As a result, prices in North Korea's markets are now fluctuating wildly throughout any given day, leading to a decline in consumer confidence. Sources have also reported an increasing number of failing businesses.

"About 30-40% of businesses in Sinuiju have closed recently. There was even a textile factory that had to shut down at the end of the year because they couldnt acquire enough materials," the source said.

"They are closing because we are not trading with China anymore," he continued. "And the merchants cannot devise new strategies to make money, asking themselves if they even have a future anymore."

The North Korean authorities have not taken any serious steps to address the problem and as previously reported by Daily NK are in fact exacerbating the situation by cracking down on the Chinese products that remain in the markets.

"The crackdown (by the authorities) is fomenting even greater public distrust," a separate source in North Pyongan Province said. "And as dissatisfaction increases, general public opinion of the government will only worsen."

*Translated by Colin Zwirko

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