North Korean gas prices triple in recent months

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North Korean gas prices triple in recent months

Gasoline prices in North Korea have tripled in recent months, apparently affected by tougher international sanctions, a South Korean government official said Tuesday.

“[We] have information that oil prices [there] are on the rise,” the Unification Ministry official told reporters. “Gasoline prices have tripled compared with those early this year.”

He added that a kilogram (35 ounces) of gasoline was sold in the mid-6,000 North Korean won level early this year. In North Korea, $1 is trading at some 8,000 North Korean won.

The surge is not confined to Pyongyang, the capital, although there are some differences by region, he said.

The international community has strengthened economic sanctions on Pyongyang. Days after the North’s nuclear test Sept. 3, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 2375, which was aimed at cutting about 30 percent of oil provided to the impoverished state. It also includes a ban on exports of North Korean textiles.

The council also adopted Resolution 2371 in early August, targeted mainly at curbing the North’s coal and other mineral exports, in response to its launches of intercontinental ballistic missiles. A set of sanctions are expected to slash North Korea’s total exports by around 90 percent this year, from $2.82 billion in 2016, he added. In contrast, rice prices and foreign exchange rates are relatively stable, the ministry said.

The country’s food imports from China stood at some 75,000 tons in the first seven months of this year, nearly seven times higher than around 11,000 tons a year earlier. “Impacts of the sanctions on trade, prices and North Koreans’ livelihood are likely to become visible as time goes by,” said the official. The government said that North Korea is emphasizing self-reliance, pressing its people to withstand the tough sanctions.

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