China-NK seafood trade slows amid rising tensions

By Reuters – Global Times Source:Reuters Published: 2017/8/9 21:38:39

A thriving trade in seafood across the Yalu River that separates China from North Korea has dramatically slowed, traders said, although there is still nearly a month to go for a UN deadline to tighten sanctions on North Korea as punishment for its missile tests.

The UN Security Council unanimously passed a resolution on Saturday banning North Korean exports of coal, iron, iron ore, lead, lead ore and seafood, intending to press the country to renounce its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.

Countries have 30 days to enforce the tougher measures, which aim to choke off one-third of North Korea's $3 billion annual export revenue, after the country held two intercontinental ballistic missile tests in July.

But a Reuters reporter who visited Dandong, through which about three-quarters of China's trade with North Korea flows, was told by traders and fishermen that authorities tightened enforcement on seafood coming from North Korea on Saturday.

"It has pretty much all slowed," said one worker at Dandong's small Yicuomao port, adding that of the 10 or so major operators in the seafood trade, only a few still continued to operate, risking fines.

The port is usually a hive of activity, with a steady stream of fishing vessels returning from North Korea with fresh seafood. On a Reuters visit in April, activity in the market was frenetic.

It is not clear how much of the trade has official permission or whether any customs duties are imposed. But during a visit on Tuesday by a Reuters reporter, activity at the port was subdued, with idle workers saying that Chinese authorities had ordered a halt since Saturday, in line with new UN sanctions.

Chinese trawlers and smaller vessels bring in catch from North Korean fishermen after trips into North Korean waters in the Yellow Sea, buying crabs, puffer fish and mackerel in exchange for alcohol, cooking gas and vegetables, traders in Dandong said. 

Some seafood traders said spot checks from Chinese customs patrols had increased in recent months. Still, they expressed confidence they would remain unaffected by the sanctions.

Chinese customs figures show it imported $91 million worth of seafood from North Korea in the first half. 

Posted in: ECONOMY

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