Imports from the North shrank 81.6 percent to $54 million in December, while exports to Pyongyang contracted by 23.4 percent to $260 million, AP said, citing a spokesman for the Chinese customs agency, Huang Songping.
But while Canada and the US have welcomed the Korean discussions, Hook said they were unlikely to change the agenda of the Vancouver meeting or result in a short-term softening of sanctions.
But Brian Hook, director of policy for U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, said the plan is to come up with concrete ways that Washington and its allies can strengthen the "maximum-pressure campaign" on North Korea.
GETTYNorth Korea has escalated the development of its nuclear programme
Finance Minister Bill Morneau quietly issued the directive last month following concerns that the North Korean government was skirting worldwide sanctions through money laundering and other illicit financial activity. The latest round passed last month.
"These officials were truly baffled that a majority of the South Korean population does not seem to have grasped the reality that the Trump administration, despite the risks, is inching ever closer to a preventive strike on North Korea", wrote the Russian analyst. While China says they support a denuclearized Korean Peninsula, Beijing has resisted sanctions so harsh that they might cause widespread suffering or topple Kim's regime.
It suggested Tuesday for a meeting with the South's three-member delegation led by Vice Minister Chun Hae-sung, to discuss the North's participation, the ministry said in a statement.
India also hoped that the engagement between the two countries would help reduce tensions and pave the way for peace in the peninsula.
The United States and South Korea reciprocated by calling off military exercises during the Olympics.