© Reuters. PHOTO FILE: The flag of North Korea flutters next to the concert wire at the North Korean Embassy in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, March 9, 2017. REUTERS / Edgar Su / File Photo
Authors Yew Lun Tian and Josh Smith
BEIJING / SEOUL (Reuters) – Chinese brokers said they expect regular trade with North Korea to resume as early as Monday, after a North Korean train stopped in a Chinese border town on Sunday at the first such crossing since the anti-coronavirus border blockade began. in 2020.
“My business partner in North Korea told me on Friday that the land border would reopen for cargo on January 17,” a Chinese commodity trader in the border town of Dandong told Reuters.
“By Saturday, the entire import-export community here had heard of this and people started assembling wagons to move their cargo,” he said.
North Korea has not officially reported any cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began in early 2020, and has imposed strong anti-virus measures, including closing borders and restrictions on travel within the country.
Another Chinese trader said he could arrange cargo loading on a train in Dandong that should cross into North Korea on Monday.
On Sunday, she posted on social media three photos of freight cars taken inside the train station and said the first batch of cargo was being loaded to rebuild the rail link between Dandong and North Korea.
Both traders declined to be named, citing the sensitivity of things.
China has not officially announced the reopening of the border. Previous reports of an imminent reopening of the border that referred to traders and logistics did not materialize.
China’s foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a request Sunday to confirm the reopening of the border.
Citing several unnamed sources, South Korean news agency Yonhap earlier Sunday reported the arrival of what it said was a North Korean freight train to Dandong, saying it marked the official reopening of North Korea’s land border with China.
It is unclear whether the train was carrying any cargo to China, but will likely return to North Korea on Monday with a cargo of “emergency materials,” sources told Yonhap, without explanation.
The Japanese news agency Kyodo also reported the arrival of the train, citing an informed source.
While Chinese data show that limited trade https://www.reuters.com/markets/asia/chinas-nov-exports-north-korea-fall-previous-month-customs-data-2021-12-20 continued, most shipments appear to use North Korean seaports rather than trains across its land borders.
Seoul officials said late last year that they were closely monitoring the resumption of cross-border rail traffic as a signal that restrictions could be eased.
After nearly two years of closing borders, some humanitarian aid https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/trickle-humanitarian-aid-enters-north-korea-border-closure-drags-2022-01-13 is leaking to North Korea, although shipments of key supplies including food remain blocked, according to United Nations organizations.
Several consignments of food and medical supplies entered the country after up to three months of quarantine at Nampo Seaport, but there was no confirmation that larger consignments were being transported by train.
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