(LEAD) China suspends imports of N. Korean coal
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SEOUL, Feb. 18 (Yonhap) -- China's commerce ministry said Saturday it will suspend the import of North Korean coal, apparently in response to the latest provocations made by Pyongyang.
Beijing's Ministry of Commerce said the decision, which comes into effect on Sunday, is in line with the United Nation's sanction against North Korea. The suspension will be valid through Dec. 31, the ministry added.
"As coal takes up a significant portion of Pyongyang's trade with China, the decision is anticipated to have a significant impact on North Korea," an expert on China said.
Coal is estimated to take up 40 percent of North Korea's exports to China.
China had banned imports of coal from North Korea in April last year, but had been making exceptions for those intended for household use, which led to criticism over the regulation's effectiveness.
North Korea fired a new intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) called the Pukguksong-2 on Sunday from an air base in the country's northwestern province toward waters off its east coast.