North Korea's exports to China rose 8 percent on-year to US$1.85 billion in the first eight months of this year, thanks to higher exports of coal, ores and woven garments, a South Korean diplomat said Monday.
The North's imports from China fell 6 percent on-year to $2.24 billion in the eight-month period, with two-way trade totaling $4.09 billion, said the diplomat at the South Korean Embassy in Beijing.
Total trade volume between North Korea and China was little changed in the January-August period, compared with $4.1 billion for the cited period a year earlier, the diplomat said on the condition of anonymity, in a sign that their trade is on a recovery track.
It was not immediately clear, however, whether the rebound in bilateral trade meant that Beijing might ease its tougher stance on Pyongyang's nuclear weapons program.
"North Korea's exports of coal and ores to China showed a double-digit growth during the eight-month period, despite declines in their international spot prices," the diplomat said.
China exported about 96,000 tons of crude oil to North Korea in August, after a two-month hiatus, according to the diplomat, who tracks trade between North Korea and China.
"China did not export any crude to North Korea in June and July this year, but exported about 96,000 tons of oil to the North in August," said he said.
China normally exports 30,000-50,000 tons of crude oil per month to North Korea, the diplomat said.
On the back of the August shipment, China's exports of crude oil to North Korea reached 346,000 tons in the first eight months of this year, he said.
North Korea's traditional ally has become increasingly frustrated with its wayward neighbor, particularly after the North's third nuclear test in February in defiance of China. Beijing voted in favor of tougher sanctions by the United Nations Security Council to punish Pyongyang for conducting the nuclear test.
In May, the Bank of China closed accounts with North Korea's Foreign Trade Bank, which was accused by the U.S. of helping finance the North's nuclear weapons program.
Last month, China disclosed a list of weapons-related goods banned for export to North Korea, highlighting Beijing's commitment to enforcing international sanctions against Pyongyang.
Still, many Chinese businesses keep close trading ties with North Korea, supplying key commodities and hard currency to the North.