North Korea, China resumes regular trade through rail

According to Chinese commodity brokers, resumption of regular trade between Beijing and Pyongyang is expected to resume on Monday, after a North Korean train pulled into a Chinese border town on Sunday in the first such crossing since anti-coronavirus border lockdowns began in 2020.

“My business partner in North Korea told me on Friday that the land border will reopen to cargo freight on January 17,” said a Chinese commodities trader in the border town of Dandong. “By Saturday the whole import-export community here has heard about this and people have began snapping up carriages to move their cargo over”.

Since the start of the pandemic in early 2020, North Korea has officially not reported a single case and has imposed strict domestic travel curbs and anti COVID-19 measures, including border closures.

Another Chinese trader said she can arrange for cargo to be loaded onto a train in Dandong which is scheduled to cross over to North Korea on Monday.

On Sunday this trader posted three photos of freight carriages entering a railway station on social media, saying the first batch of cargo for the resumption of rail link between Dandong and North Korea was being loaded.

Both traders preferred the cover of anonymity citing the sensitivity of the matter.

Incidentally, China has yet to officially announce the reopening of the border with North Korea.

According to a report from South Korea’s Yonhap news agency citing multiple sources, a freight train from North arrived in Dandong, in what it said was a formal reopening of the border with North Korea and China.

It was unclear whether the train was carrying any cargo into China, but was likely to return to North Korea on Monday with a load of “emergency materials”, said sources without elaborating.

Japan’s Kyodo news agency also reported the arrival of the train citing an informed source.

Data released by China shows limited ongoing trade using North Korean seaports, and not trains across its land borders.

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