The Philippines said it suspended all trade relations with North Korea over concerns about its nuclear and weapons programs, local media reported on Friday.
The country’s Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano announced the move following a meeting with U.S. Ambassador to the country.
“We can say we have suspended trade relations with North Korea … We will fully comply with the UNSC resolution including the economic sanctions,” Cayetano said in comments carried by the country’s ABS News.
“We have gotten direction from the (presidential) palace to support the U.N. Security Council.”
The Philippines is one of the DPRK’s larger trade partners, with total trade between the two countries valued at around $85 million last year, with the DPRK importing over $30 million in machinery.
“Although the Philippines has recently been one of North Korea’s top trade partners, we really have to continue to look at China, which makes up around 90 percent of North Korea’s licit trade and is the venue for untold amounts of illicit activities,” Kent Boydston, research analyst at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, told NK News.
Figures from the ITC trade database show the Phillippines was also importing iron and steel products, which could put the country in breach of UN resolutions which restrict member states from importing numerous DPRK minerals.
But a complete prohibition on trade goes further than UN resolutions require, as most products are not covered by the restrictions.
“While the resolutions do not suspend all trade with North Korea, countries are required to confirm that funds going to North Korea are not used for the weapons programs or violations of the resolutions,” Anthony Ruggiero, a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, told NK News.
“The Philippines likely decided as other countries should, to cut off trade because it could not confirm where North Korea would spend the money or use the goods it bought.”
The news comes as the UN Security Council debates a new resolution following the DPRK’s sixth nuclear test on September 3. The draft document – put forward by the U.S. – seeks to ban member states from exporting oil products and stop the North’s use of overseas labor.
Following the nuclear test, U.S. President Donald Trump said Washington was considering ceasing trade with countries that were doing business with North Korea, though such a move would mean the U.S. also halting trade with China, the country’s biggest single trade partner.
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Featured Image: METROPOLIS by jopetsy on 2017-05-10 18:08:03