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Tuesday, April 5, 2016, 18:54

China announces curbs on DPRK trade

By Agencies

BEIJING - China's Commerce Ministry on Tuesday banned imports of gold and rare earths from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) and exports to the country of jet fuel and other oil products used to make rocket fuel, a move in line with new United Nations sanctions on Pyongyang.

The bans, with immediate effect, followed the UN Security Council's resolutions, the Ministry of Commerce said in a statement on its website.

The Security Council unanimously passed a resolution in early March expanding UN sanctions aimed at starving DPRK of funds for its nuclear and ballistic missile programs after Pyongyang conducted a fourth nuclear test in January and launched a long-range rocket in February.

The mining sector is a key part of DPRK's economy, which is already largely cut off from the rest of the world. Experts believe revenue from the sector helps underwrite DPRK's military expenditures.

The ministry said it would also ban coal shipments from the DPRK, although it made exemptions consistent with sanctions, including uses intended for "the people's well-being" and not connected to nuclear or missile programmes.

The DPRK delivered around 20 million tons of coal to China last year, up 27 percent on the year, overtaking Russia and Mongolia to become China's third biggest supplier, behind Australia and Indonesia.

An exception was made for coal originating in third countries and supplied via the DPRK's port of Rason. Mongolia, looking for alternative supply routes for its commodities, has already signed an agreement with the port that gave its exporters preferential treatment.

Export bans on jet and rocket fuel included exemptions for "basic humanitarian needs" in conjunction with inspections, and for civilian passenger jets flying outside of the DPRK.

Other restricted minerals include vanadium and titanium, both used in steel alloys.

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