November 24, 2017 / 6:52 AM / 2 years ago

China imports no iron ore, lead, coal from North Korea in October

BEIJING (Reuters) - China imported no iron ore, lead or coal from North Korea in October as new sanctions against the isolated nation came into force, while the world’s second-largest economy did not export any diesel, gasoline or corn to the country, data showed on Friday.

The data represents the first whole month since the latest United Nations penalties came into force on Sept. 5, banning Pyongyang from selling coal, iron ore, lead, lead ore and seafood abroad.

It follows numbers on Thursday showing China’s total trade with North Korea fell to its lowest since February as imports sank to their lowest in years due in large part to the U.N. curbs.

The two sets of data highlight the impact of those sanctions as well as the scale of the drop in business between the two countries amid growing pressure from the United States to do more to rein in North Korea’s missile and nuclear programs.

Friday’s numbers from the General Administration of Customs will underscore Beijing’s repeated stance that it is rigorously enforcing U.N. resolutions that are aimed at slashing the North Korea’s $3 billion annual export revenue by one-third.

Trade has steadily slowed this year, particularly since China banned purchases of coal, the North Korea’s biggest export, in February, and China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) [CNPET.UL] suspended diesel and gasoline sales to North Korea in June over concerns it will not get paid.

Last year, China, one of Pyongyang’s chief trading partners, bought 22.5 million tonnes of coal from North Korea worth almost $2 billion. It supplied $120 million worth of fuel used for farming and transportation and by the military.

There have only been a handful of months when China has not sent any gasoline or diesel to North Korea in recent years, Reuters records show.

A source familiar with China’s North Korean oil supplies said the disappearance of fuel would become “normal” as the sales suspension bites.

“I expect to see more zeros in the coming months,” he said.

Over the past two years, there have been months when Chinese corn exports to North Korea have dropped to zero, although before that China was supplying hundreds or thousands of tonnes of the grain.

Reporting by Josephine Mason; additional reporting by Chen Aizhu; Editing by Richard Pullin and Christian Schmollinger

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