Categories: world

Kim looks to Russia as sanctions contributing North Korea's economy

SEOUL, South Korea – Two months after he failed to win a severely necessary relief from President Donald Trump's sanctions, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un travels to Russia in a possible attempt to win his aid as US trade-related sanctions damage the country's already struggling economy. There are no signs of an economic or humanitarian crisis in North Korea. But some observers say the sanctions, they hardened in recent years, gradually dry up Kim's foreign currency reserves and he is desperate to find ways to bring in hard currency. His propaganda service already says that North Koreans can survive with just "water and air". Russia has, together with China, demanded sanctions, but both are members of the UN Security Council which has approved a total of 1 1 round sanctions in North Korea since 2006. Some experts say that Kim may ask Russian President Vladimir Putin in a meeting to take place in Vladivostok on Thursday to express strong opposition to the sanctions, enforce them less strictly and send humanitarian food assistance to North Korea. It's still unclear how much help Kim could get from Putin. Along with China, Russia is unlikely to avoid sanctions and face diplomatic friction with the United States. More than 90% of North Korea's foreign trade has gone through China, with which it shares a long, porous land border. Analyst Go Myong-Hyun from the Seoul-based Asan Political Studies Institute said that Kim's Russian journey, the first of a North Korean leader since 2011, may…

Two months after he failed to win a severely necessary relief from President Donald Trump’s sanctions, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un travels to Russia in a possible attempt to win his aid as US trade-related sanctions damage the country’s already struggling economy.

There are no signs of an economic or humanitarian crisis in North Korea. But some observers say the sanctions, they hardened in recent years, gradually dry up Kim’s foreign currency reserves and he is desperate to find ways to bring in hard currency. His propaganda service already says that North Koreans can survive with just “water and air”.

Russia has, together with China, demanded sanctions, but both are members of the UN Security Council which has approved a total of 1

1 round sanctions in North Korea since 2006. Some experts say that Kim may ask Russian President Vladimir Putin in a meeting to take place in Vladivostok on Thursday to express strong opposition to the sanctions, enforce them less strictly and send humanitarian food assistance to North Korea.

It’s still unclear how much help Kim could get from Putin. Along with China, Russia is unlikely to avoid sanctions and face diplomatic friction with the United States. More than 90% of North Korea’s foreign trade has gone through China, with which it shares a long, porous land border.

Analyst Go Myong-Hyun from the Seoul-based Asan Political Studies Institute said that Kim’s Russian journey, the first of a North Korean leader since 2011, may have been planned well before the February break of the second Kim and Trump summit in Vietnam. Going said North Korea and Russia had wanted to discuss economic cooperation if the summit had led to a relief of sanctions.

What is likely to be on the agenda is a request from Kim for food aid. In February, North Korea’s ambassador to the United Nations, Kim Song, issued an unusual appeal for “urgent” food aid. North Korean officials blamed the lack of bad weather and sanctions.

Analyst Cho Bong-hyun from the Seoul IBK Economic Research Institute said that North Korea needs more than 1 million tons of food aid, so it would like Russia to provide hundreds of thousands of tons of corn, flour and other food. Russia could send North Korea food, but mostly in a secret way, Cho said.

Kim is also likely to threaten the issue of thousands of North Korean workers in Russia, who have to return home with other foreign North Korean workers around the world by the end of this year, according to UN sanctions.

“There is a great opportunity that Kim will ask Putin to be flexible on the issue because it is related to the influx of dollars,” analyst Shin Beomchul of the Asan Institute said. He said North Korea may try to convince Russia to overlook North Korean visitors with short-term visa visas dealing with illegal work.

Last May, South Korea’s Consumer Affairs Association said that North Korea sends about 50,000 workers aboard, mostly to China and Russia. Most work at factories, construction sites, timber camps and restaurants. They often work in difficult working conditions and much of their wages are taken by North Korea’s government, according to activists and defectors.

After Kim failed to get sanction relief from Trump in Vietnam, he asked for national unity under the confidence of self-reliance to overcome the sanctions. His state media called self-confidence “the treasured sword”, a term that used to refer to his nuclear weapons in the past.

“It is necessary to sweep away the truth from the sanctions of the enemy forces,” Kim said in a rare speech at the country’s rubber stamp parliament earlier this month.

The Vietnam summit collapsed after Trump rejected Kim’s call for the end of five of the 11 sanctions he said impede his country’s civilian economy rather than partial steps towards nuclear disarmament. They include a ban on key exports such as coal, textiles and seafood. a significant restriction on oil imports; and repatriation of North Korean overseas workers in December.

These sanctions, which were approved one by one since 2016 when Kim began a series of nuclear and missile tests, entail more pain than the six previously introduced sanctions that are largely aimed at the North Korea arms industry.

The new sanctions particularly affect North Korea’s official external trade. According to China’s customs figures, China’s imports from North Korea fell by 88% and exported to the north by 33% by 2018. South Korea’s central bank said North Korea’s economy had contracted 3.5% in 2017 from a year earlier.

North Korea Monitoring Groups in Seoul say that rice and other key commodity prices in hundreds of North Korea markets remain largely unchanged. South Korea’s spy agency told lawmakers last month that it has not detected any signs of mass hush.

Some experts say that Kim has probably used some of his foreign exchange reserves to import goods from China to maintain price stability. Some say that North Korea’s major trade deficit may have been offset by illegal cross-border trade with China, which is likely to flourish again with the ransom of UN sanctions. Others say North Korea is trying to produce locally produced goods.

“It is certain that North Korea will release a large amount of money,” Go says. “When the money expires, it will face an urgent situation and increase the calls for sanctions.”

There are no independently confirmed data on the size of North Korea’s foreign exchange reserves. Go said some economists appreciate them at $ 5 billion. Outside speculation, how long North Korea can withstand the impact of the sanctions varies without greater economic and social chaos.

Cho speculates North Korea is likely to last for the next three to five years. But others say it could be affected by sewage on their foreign exchange reserves, rather than by December or next year.

If the sanctions will eventually force Kim to completely abandon his core program, it is unclear. Kim considers its nuclear weapons a stronger security security than anything that non-aggression amounts the US could offer. In his twelve parliamentary speech, he described the sanctions as a chart to disarm North Korea before attempting to overthrow his government.

If there is an indication of a humanitarian crisis in North Korea, many experts say that China is likely to do great

Thae Yong Ho, a former minister at the North Korean Embassy in London who resigned to South Korea in 2016, said in a new blog post that there are rumors between North Korean residents that Chinese President Xi Jinping visits Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea, in May. He said North Korea’s tough stance is currently underway if it gets help from Russia and China.

___

Associated Press researcher Yu Bing in Beijing contributed to this report.

Share
Published by
Faela