North Korea fuel prices surge after China cuts oil supplies

Pic Reuters

Pic Reuters

The U.S. measures would initially hit Chinese entities considered "low-hanging fruit", including smaller financial institutions and "shell" companies linked to North Korea's nuclear and missile programs, said one of the officials, while declining to name the targets.

Japan yesterday downplayed South Korea's offer to hold military talks with North Korea, saying the priority should be piling pressure on Pyongyang through sanctions.

Gasoline and diesel prices have reportedly jumped in North Korea, after its largest crude supplier China halted fuel sales.

Daily NK is run by North Korean defectors who collect prices via phone calls with fuel traders.

Frustrated that China has not done more to rein in North Korea, the Trump administration could impose new sanctions on small Chinese banks and other firms doing business with Pyongyang within weeks, two senior USA officials said.

Japan supports new sanctions but also maintains that Russian Federation and China must do more to fully implement the current set of measures targeting their economic ties with North Korea.

The data shows gasoline prices eased to $2.05 per kg by July 12; they are still more than double from the beginning of the year.

China announced in February the suspension of coal imports from the North, striking a blow at a major source of income for the hermit state.

Prices stabilised after the sharp spikes through the first week of July, likely because North Korea encouraged fuel smuggling across its border with China, Kang said.

Last year, China shipped more than 96,000 tons of gasoline and almost 45,000 tons of diesel to the isolated communist state, worth a combined $64 million.

Most of that was sold by CNPC, which grew to dominate China's energy trade with Pyongyang over the past two decades. "This is a time for pressure", Japan's foreign ministry spokesman Norio Maruyama told reporters in NY where Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida was attending a United Nations meeting on development.

Primary users of fuel products in North Korea include fishermen, farmers, truckers and the military.

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