People walk cross the road in front of the Bank of Korea in Seoul on October 25, 2016. (JUNG YEON-JE / AFP)
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s (DPRK) economy in 2020 posted its sharpest drop due to the coronavirus, natural disasters and international sanctions, according to the Republic of Korea (ROK)’s central bank.
Gross domestic product contracted 4.5 percent to 31.4 trillion won (US$27.4 billion) in 2020, the sharpest fall since 1997, according to estimates from the ROK’s central bank.
DPRK’s decision to shut borders more than a year ago due to the pandemic has caused trade to plunge 67.9 percent to just US$90 million, while imports fell 73.9 percent, according to the Bank of Korea report.
DPRK leader Kim Jong-un has issued rare warnings of economic struggles and food shortages but so far has shown no indication he’s willing to return to discussions on reducing his nuclear arsenal in return for economic incentives from other countries including the United States.
However, Kim and ROK President Moon Jae-in this week agreed to a thaw in their chilly relations and to restore hotlines cut for more than a year due to political rancor, improving the prospects for a breakthrough in an extended stalemate in nuclear talks.
Fitch Solutions said in April that DPRK’s economy would barely grow in 2021 as borders stayed shut.
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