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N. Korea's economy up 1.8 pct in 2019: U.N. report

SAT 2020 18 JAN 03:50:PM (GMT: SAT 2020 18 JAN 06:50:AM)

SEOUL, Jan. 18 (Yonhap) -- North Korea's economy grew 1.8 percent on-year in 2019, with the growth expected to continue in the next few years despite international sanctions, a U.N. report has said.

The North's estimated gross domestic product (GDP) marked the first increase in three years after it backtracked 4.2 percent and 3.5 percent in 2018 and 2017, respectively, according to the U.N. Conference on Trade and Development's World Economic Situation and Prospects 2020 released Thursday.

The report forecast the growth trend to continue at 2.2 percent this year and 2.8 percent next year, though it did not elaborate further on its estimates.

North Korea's average GDP growth between 1997 and 2011 stood at 0.8 percent.

The estimate spiked to reach 3.9 percent in 2016 but reported a 4.2 percent contraction in 2018 amid multilayered sanctions imposed over the North's nuclear and missile provocations.

The report also said North Korea's consumer price inflation is estimated to have jumped 4.8 percent last year, with the uptrend expected to continue by 5 percent this year and 4.9 percent next year.

North Korea has been calling for stepped-up efforts to achieve wealth and prosperity without outside help, saying self-reliance is the best policy against "hostile forces' sanctions."

In a New Year's Day announcement, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un said that he has no expectation of the U.S. lifting sanctions anytime soon and ordered his people to make a "frontal breakthrough" to build a self-reliant economy.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (C) inspects a fertilizer factory under construction in Sunchon, north of the capital Pyongyang, during his first "field guidance" of the new year, in this photo provided by the Korean Central News Agency on Jan. 7, 2020. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap)