North Korea's grain imports from China tumbled more than 50 percent on-year in the first half of this year, data showed Wednesday, amid speculation that relations between the communist allies are not like before.
North Korea imported 58,387 tons of cereal crops from China in the January-June period, down 53 percent from 124,228 tons recorded a year earlier, according to the data by the Korea International Trade Association (KITA).
By type, flour topped the list with 40,142 tons, or 68.8 percent, followed by rice and corn with 13,831 tons and 3,420 tons, respectively, added the Seoul-based agency.
Analysts say the remarkable decrease may be attributable to reportedly strained ties between the two sides in recent months.
"Of late, North Korea has appeared to move to reduce its economic dependence on China and diversify its foreign economic partners," said Lim Eul-chul, professor at the Institute for Far Eastern Studies at Kyungnam University.
Kwon Tae-jin, researcher at private think tank GS&J, said it might have been more affected by Pyongyang's increased crop yield.
"North Korea's stockpile of crops seems to have grown due to a good harvest last year.
Meanwhile, China's fertilizer exports to North Korea also plunged 21.3 percent to 109,531 tons during the January-June period this year from a year earlier, said KITA.