◆ Is Russia providing oil, food, and fertilizer?
A reporting partner living close to the border with Russia, in North Hamkyung Province, said on May 2 that, since Kim Jong-un’s summit with Putin in late April, there has been a sudden increase in expectations among traders and the public of Russian support and economic cooperation.
The reporting partner said, “There are many people who expect to receive fuel, fertilizer, pesticide, and food from Russia, as the Rodong Newspaper and other media reported that Kim Jong-un’s visit to Russia was fruitful. There are also many trading companies that are pinning their hopes on Russia’s massive investment, support, and trade expansion.”
Behind this ‘rise in Russian stock’ is the lasting sense of disappointment felt in the wake of the fruitless Hanoi summit with the U.S. in late February. The outlook for the easing of economic sanctions is still not looking good- with China, the country which North Korea relies on for 90% of its trade, making it clear that it will continue to abide by the sanctions.
Since early March, shortly after the failed Hanoi summit, China has tightened its customs inspections and, in addition, implemented a thorough crackdown on smuggling at its border. North Korea’s state-owned trading companies are at an impasse, beleaguered by the serious slump in trade and joint ventures.
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