SEOUL -- North Korea's total trade with other countries fell sharply in 2018, the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency announced on Friday, as long-term sanctions continue to take their toll.
The total value of North Korea's trade, excluding that with South Korea, was $2.8 billion in 2018, down 49%. It was the second straight annual drop and the first time the figure has fallen below $3 billion. Exports plummeted 86% to $240 million, and imports fell 31% to $2.6 billion.
Trade with China, North Korea's largest trade partner, came in at $2.7 billion, a 48% decline from 2017. China made up 95.8% of North Korea's trade, 1 percentage point more than the previous year. Russia is the country's second biggest trading partner, accounting for 1.2% of its trade.
International sanctions imposed on North Korea related to its nuclear weapons program mean the country cannot export things like mineral fuels, apparel or marine products. As a result, shipments of light industry products have increased. Exports of clocks and clock parts surged 1,534%. Shipments of products like wigs also grew.
North Korea imported $360 million worth of crude and processed oil, 14% of inbound shipments.