Liaoning province in the northeast of China has established a centre to administer its growing fruit exports into neighbouring North Korea.
According to a report by South Korean newspaper the Dong-a Ilbo, Chinese fruit exports to the communist nation have seen double-digit growth in the past five years.
“About 10,000 tonnes of fruit were exported to North Korea via Dandong Marine Centre last year,” an informed source told the newspaper. “They were worth Yn100m (US$16m),” the source added.
Exported produce includes tropical and subtropical lines such as bananas, pineapples, lychees, dragon fruit, watermelon and durian, as well as apples and tangerines.
According to the source, sales surge before major holidays in the country, such as the birthdays of former leaders Kim Jong Il (16 February) and Kim Il Sung (15 April).
“Fruit exports significantly increased ahead of Christmas day in the past, but there was no notable change in exports last year due to the death of Kim Jong Il,“ the source said.
North Korea does not celebrate Christmas, but fruit imports have typically increased in the past as 24 December marks the birth of Kim Jong Il’s mother Kim Jong Suk, the article explained.
Fruit is sent directly to the nation’s capital Pyongyang where it is consumed by the political elite and used in events and celebrations.
China’s Liaoning province is taking full advantage of the trade and has created a centre in the city of Dandong to manage fruit exports to North Korea. The Dong-a Ilbo understands all fruit exports to the country will be run through this centre.
The centre is a subsidiary of Dandong Guopin Co, a state-run company established in Dandong. It has a system worth Yn10m designed to enhance capacity in sorting, refrigeration, packaging, inspection and transport of fruits, the newspaper reported.