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North Korea’s closure of borders to safeguard the country from the pandemic is dealing a bigger blow to trade with the isolated economy than international sanctions, according to a report by a trade association in Seoul.

North Korea’s trade with China, by far its largest economic partner, shrank 73% through September and is on course to plunge 80% for the whole year, the Korea International Trade Association said recently. That would exceed the 57% drop seen during the same period in 2018 when international sanctions intensified to penalize the Pyongyang regime for its tests of nuclear weapons and missiles to deliver warheads, the report said.

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