Has China-North Korea trade via rail resumed, and what could it mean?
By: Benjamin Katzeff Silberstein
Today (January 16th), a freight train from North Korea crossed into China for the first time since the pandemic border shutdown began. Reuters reports, based on statements by several Chinese businesspeople involved in border trade, that this marks a more permanent, long-term resumption of trade between the countries.
It is too early to say if this is a long-term change or a unique event, and the coming weeks and months will confirm whether or not this marks a permanent change. It will also, hopefully, give us some sort of clue about how quarantine procedures are supposed to work on the North Korean side.
It goes without saying that this would be a welcome change for the North Korean economy. The pause in North Korean exports to China has created significant difficulties, but as Bill Brown has often pointed out, the blockade against North Korean imports from China also creates severe problems for several industries. As an example, see this Radio Free Asia report about the bottlenecks in the economy that tire shortages are causing:
The source said that two of the four cars owned by his company cannot be used due to the tire shortage.
“Drivers will use the same tires until the treads are worn out and shiny, so it has become the norm to re-use punctured or torn tires by putting a small piece of an old tire tube over them. Sometimes they have to be put in at an angle because the tires they are using are either larger or smaller than the vehicle’s specifications,” the source said.
“I have never seen new tires produced locally. Since international trade is stopped due to the border closure, it has become difficult to import used tires,” said the source.
The ban has become problematic for many North Korean drivers who use their vehicles for supplemental jobs in the country’s nascent market economy, the source said.
“They can no longer drive their cars to earn a little extra income because they don’t have tires.”
(Source: Chang Gyu Ahn, “North Korean tire shortage grounds vehicles, disrupts commerce,” Radio Free Asia, January 13th, 2022.)View Original Article