BEIJING (Reuters) - China’s imports from North Korea fell for a seventh straight month in September, dropping 37.9 percent year-on-year as Beijing implemented the latest UN trade sanctions aimed at persuading Pyongyang to rein in its nuclear and missile programs.
The sanctions, which could cut off one-third of North Korea’s total annual exports of $3 billion, took effect in September, but China enforced the new measures from Aug. 15.
China-U.S. ties have been strained by President Donald Trump’s criticism of China’s trade practices and by demands that Beijing do more to put pressure on North Korea.
The sharp decline in imports in September compares to a 1 percent drop in August.
Data released by China’s General Administration of Customs showed China had a $1.07 billion trade surplus with North Korea in the first nine months of this year.
China’s total trade with North Korea between January and September rose 3.7 percent to $4.03 billion, with the growth rate declining from 7.5 percent over the first eight months of the year.
Imports from North Korea for the nine months fell 16.7 percent on-year to $1.48 billion, while exports to North Korea rose 20.9 percent to $2.55 billion in the same period.
Customs spokesman Huang Songping did not provide the trade values for September, but said imports of coal, iron ore and apparel from North Korea all declined in the month, and there were no imports of seafood.
China’s exports to North Korea in September dropped 6.7 percent from a year ago, he told a news conference.
Reporting by Beijing Monitoring Desk; additional reporting by Elias Glenn and Cheng Fang; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore