Singapore bans all commercial trade with North Korea

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Singapore has banned all commercial trade with North Korea, according to a notice sent to traders, making them the second country this year to fully suspend trade amid mounting pressure over North Korea’s nuclear program.

Singapore Customs said in a notice to traders that, effective immediately, it has banned all commercially traded goods that are imported, exported, or in transit from or to North Korea. The notice was sent on November 7 but had not been previously reported.

The ban does not affect non-commercial transactions, which includes personal or household items, diplomatic correspondence, human remains, or cremated ashes. Those seeking to transport non-commercial items will have to request a permit at least 3 business days in advance.

“We wish to inform you that with effect from 8 Nov 2017, Singapore will prohibit all commercially traded goods (exchanged for money or barter traded) from or to [North Korea], regardless of whether they are imported, exported, transhipped or brought in transit through Singapore,” the notice said.

Anyone who violates the ban faces a fine of up to 100,000 Singaporean dollars (73,730 U.S. dollars) or up to 2 years in prison, or both. Repeat offenders face a fine of up to 200,000 Singaporean dollars (147,480 U.S. dollars) or up to 3 years in prison, or both.

The ban comes just two months after the Philippines suspended trade relations with North Korea to comply with a UN Security Council resolution. India and China, along with a number of other countries, have tightened restrictions on trade with the reclusive country.

The U.S., along with allies such as South Korea, have called on countries to end all trade with North Korea over its nuclear weapons program. U.S. President Donald Trump warned in September that the U.S. was considering to stop “all trade with any country” doing business with North Korea.

China, which shares a border with North Korea, is by far its largest trading partner. Using data from 2015, China was followed by India, Russia, Thailand, the Philippines, Mexico, Ukraine, Singapore, and Peru, according to the Observatory of Economic Complexity.

Tensions on the Korean Peninsula have been escalating for months, fueled by North Korea’s frequent missile tests and its advancing nuclear weapons program, as well as U.S. military exercises and threatening statements by President Donald Trump.

North Korea test-fired two long-range missiles in July, including one which in theory is capable of reaching large parts of the U.S. mainland. North Korea also carried out its sixth and most advanced nuclear test to date on September 3, which led to a new round of UN sanctions.

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