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Last Updated : Aug 16, 2017 05:25 PM IST | Source:

DATA STORY: India is North Korea's second biggest trade partner after China

In May 2017, after new UN sanctions were imposed on North Korea over its increasing number of missile tests, India banned all trade with North Korea excluding only food and medicine items

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un
North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un

Like celebrity news, North Korea easily finds space in the papers and portals across the world. This time, those column inches on the country and its supreme leader Kim Jong-un, speak about the deliberations over the country's decision to 'delay' the planned missile attack on Guam - an unincorporated territory held by the US.

Simmering tensions between the US and North Korea have led to many questions around how a clash between the two would result in.

The US isn't alien to the rules of engagement in a war, but for North Korea, sustaining the fourth largest army in the world won't be easy. Especially considering the minimal business ties it keeps amid complete international isolation.


Who is North Korea's friend in need?

The premise of a Free Trade Agreement between countries is good political relations. Simply put, if you're good to me and I'm good to you we can be friends and then we can do business together.

Despite their disagreements in the recent past over nuclear tests, China is North Korea's go-to friend when it comes to business.

According to data analytics firm Statista, North Korea imported 85 percent of its goods worth USD 3.47 billion from China in 2015. In the same year, North Korea exported about 83 percent of goods worth USD 2.83 billion to the manufacturing superpower.

Infographic: Who Is North Korea Trading With? | StatistaSource: Statista

The more surprising fact is that India comes right after China as North Korea's second biggest trade partner among all other countries who maintain trade relations with the communist state.

The data obtained by The Observatory of Economic Complexity, a leading data visualisation site for international trade data pegs India ($97.8 m), Pakistan ($43.1 m) and Burkina Faso ($32.8 m) as the top export destinations of North Korea.

Likewise, most imports for the country apart from China come again from India ($108 m) followed by Russia ($78.2 m), Thailand ($73.8 m) and the Philippines ($53.2 m).

If one ignores the numbers, then it is interesting to ascertain what North Korea trades with its major export partners.

Among major products of use, refined petroleum ($186 m), synthetic filament yarn woven fabric ($138 m) and delivery trucks ($108 m) are the top products, North Korea gets from abroad. The country's primary exports include coal briquettes ($952 m) and textiles (non-knit coats & suits).

A report from Confederation of Indian Industries says India's exports to North Korea in 2013 totalled more than US$60 million and these primarily included food and medicine.

On the global front, India has been a critic of North Korea's nuclear tests and has also criticised its ties with Pakistan and its support for the Kashmir conflict.

In May 2017, after new UN sanctions were imposed on North Korea over its increasing number of missile tests, India banned all trade with North Korea excluding only food and medicine items.

Following suite, China - a critic North Korea's nuclear ambitions in the past, banned imports of iron ore, iron, lead and coal from North Korea this month.

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First Published on Aug 16, 2017 05:23 pm
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