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China imports no iron ore from North Korea in November, exports no fuels: reports

New York — China imported no iron ore from North Korea in November, as first reported by Reuters' Beijing bureau Tuesday, citing data from China's General Administration of Customs. It also imported no coal or lead.

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In a sign that the most recent sanctions are beginning to have some impact, the customs data also showed that China did not export any gasoline, jet fuel, diesel or fuel oil to North Korea in November -- the second full month of the latest trade sanctions imposed by the United Nations.

After two intercontinental ballistic missile tests by North Korea in July, the UN Security Council unanimously in August to impose tougher sanctions on the country.

At that time, a China foreign ministry spokesman defended its procurement of iron ore from North Korea following criticism by President Donald Trump and said it was "strictly and earnestly" complying with UN sanctions.

In the first five months of 2017, Chinese imports of North Korean iron ore were up 34%, but have steadily dwindled to zero since the August UN sanctions.

The Associated Press reported in August that China stopped importing North Korean coal but total trade had risen, which prompted Trump to complain that Beijing was not using its economic leverage to stop Pyongyang's pursuit of nuclear weapons.

Reliable and recent data and statistics are difficult to come by for the isolated, secretive country. Data from the Observatory of Economic Complexity at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Media Lab shows that 100% of North Korea's iron ore goes to China.

The export value of iron ore from North Korea was $62.3 million in 2015, according to the OEC website, http://atlas.media.mit.edu.

--Joe Innace, joseph.innace@spglobal.com
--Edited by Jason Lindquist, jason.lindquist@spglobal.com