North Korea and China will launch a joint trade fair on Oct. 15, with some 400 Chinese companies expected to attend the annual exhibition, according to Chinese media on Friday.
North Korea and China have jointly held the annual trade fair in October since 2012, but the number of North Korean business entities attending the event last year was about 30 percent less than 2013.
About 100 North Korean business entities will take part in the four-day trade fair, which will be held in the Chinese border city of Dandong, according to Chinese media reports.
Besides North Korea and China, companies from Hong Kong, Vietnam, Mongolia and Thailand will join this month's North Korea-China Economic, Trade, Culture and Tourism Expo.
In the latest sign that Pyongyang and Beijing are trying to increase economic cooperation despite strained political ties, North Korea and China will launch a border trade zone in Dandong on Oct. 15 when the trade fair opens.
The Guomenwan trade zone in Dandong, where more than 70 percent of bilateral trade between the two nations is conducted, would cost a total investment of 1 billion yuan ($157 million), state-run Xinhua news agency reported in August.
"Residents living within 20 km of the border will be able to exchange commodities at the marketplace with people from the DPRK (North Korea) and enjoy a duty-free policy if they spend less than 8,000 yuan ($1,250) per day," the report said.
North Korea has been under sanctions by the United Nations due to its pursuit of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.
China is North Korea's economic benefactor and diplomatic backer, but their political ties remain strained, particularly after the North's third nuclear test in early 2013. (Yonhap)