Philippines Suspends Trade with N Korea

Felipe Villamor
170908_PH_NK_1000.jpg North Korea's Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho (right) shakes hands with Philippine Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano during the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Foreign Ministers Meeting, Aug. 6, 2017.

The Philippines has temporarily cut bilateral trade relations with North Korea in compliance with U.N. Security Council resolutions, Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said.

North Korea, which has been under U.N. sanctions since 2006 over its missile launches, tested what it claimed was a hydrogen bomb on Sept. 3, just days after it tested a ballistic missile that flew over the Japanese island of Hokkaido.

“We can say we have suspended trade relations with North Korea,” Cayetano told reporters. “The UN Security Council is quite clear. Part of these are the economic sanctions and the Philippines will comply.”

The Philippines, which is this year’s chairman of the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), has been calling on Pyongyang to stop its nuclear and missile tests which it called a cause of worry for the region’s security.

The Philippines sent about $29-million worth of products, mostly computers and circuit boards, to North Korea in 2016. Manila is the fifth largest exporter to Pyongyang and it also imported North Korean goods worth about $16 million last year, according to government figures. The two countries established diplomatic relations in July 2000.

“We are one with the world in wanting denuclearization in the Korean Peninsula. We are against anything that causes instability, we are against provocation, we are for dialogue,” Cayetano, who recently visited South Korea, said.

The Philippines has an estimated 65,000 nationals living and working in South Korea, and about 240,000 others live in Japan.

Cayetano said the Philippines remains “gravely concerned” about the developments in the Korean Peninsula, which he said had undermined regional peace and stability.

He said the North was flouting all of its commitments under the U.N. Security Council resolutions, and emphasized that Pyongyang’s actions have limited “available options for a meaningful dialogue.”

However, he said ASEAN remained ready to broker a dialogue to de-escalate tensions.

But, he said, should tensions continue to rise, the Philippine government was prepared to evacuate its citizens facing danger.


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