• Directory of Taiwan

Taiwan is North Korea's 4th largest trading partner

As Taiwan is NKorea's 4th largest trading partner, it could be hurt by Trump's threat to end trade with nations doing business with Pyongyang

Taiwan is North Korea's 4th largest trading partner

(CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- In response to North Korea's announced test of a hydrogen bomb on Sunday, U.S. President Donald Trump posted a tweet threatening to cut off trade with any country that engages in commerce with the hermit kingdom, which could have implications for Taiwan as it is Pyongyang's 4th largest trading partner.

AP reported that North Korea’s state TV anchor announced at around 2:30 p.m. that the country, upon the order of its leader Kim Jong Un, had successfully tested a hydrogen bomb that can be loaded in an intercontinental ballistic missile.

After North Korea's announcement of the ominous new advancement in nuclear weapons technology, all eyes were on President Trump's Twitter account. After words condemning the test and its "embarrassment to China," Trump released his first Tweet alluding to possible actions he might take in response:

If the U.S. were indeed to halt trade with any country doing business with North Korea, obviously the first nation impacted would be China, as it is by far the communist state's largest trading partner. This is unlikely though because in 2016 the U.S. imported US$463 billion in goods from China, while exporting US$115 billion to China, thus the impact on the economies of the two countries would be massive and would likely set off a huge trade war.

However, if Trump were indeed to follow through on his threat, Taiwan would also be affected as it is North Korea's 4th largest trading partner in terms of imports from the hermit kingdom by dollar value in 2016 at US$12.2 million or .4 percent of its total exports, according to China leads the pack at US$2.6 billion, followed by India at US$87.4 million, and the Philippines rounding out the top three at US$51.8. million.

Though seven separate sanctions have been levied by the UN against North Korea since 2006 for its nuclear weapons program, Taiwan, which was expelled from the UN in 1971, continues to trade with the isolated country.

According to Taiwan's Bureau of Foreign Trade North Korea's top exports to Taiwan are mineral products (72.57 percent), base metals and articles of base metal (12.86 percent), vegetable products (7.28 percent), textiles and textile articles (2.62), and natural or cultured pearls, precious or semiprecious stones, precious metals, metals clad with precious metal, and articles thereof; imitation jewelry; coins (1.784). Mineral products and base metals would make sense given Taiwan's manufacturing supply needs, but the category of vegetable products is quite bizarre as North Korea routinely suffers from food shortages.

Theories posited in the Taiwan Sentinel for the vegetable exports from the food-starved country could be ignorance of the scope of the food shortage, regime indifference, or that they are more expensive food items what the average North Korean cannot afford, such as ginseng.

Taiwan's top five exports to North Korea are products of the chemical or allied industries (37 percent), textiles and textile articles (29.93), machinery and mechanical appliances; electrical equipment; parts thereof; sound recorders or reproducers, television image and sound recorders and reproducers, and parts and accessories of such articles (11.87), plastics and articles thereof; rubber and articles thereof (2.80 percent), and base metals and articles of base metal (2.74 percent).

In August, news broke of Taiwan's "Crayfish King," Chen Jia-fu (陳嘉夫), making a trip to North Korea to discuss the possibility of setting up crayfish farms there.