Importers Beware: U.S. Customs Targets Imports Made in China by North Korean Workers

The AP recently reported that North Koreans are working in China as forced labor and their products are being imported into the U.S. The AP followed the production of seafood from Chinese facilities to U.S. retailers, but stated that there other affected product categories, including apparel and wood flooring.

While it has been known that North Korea sends workers abroad, this report is the first time the supply chain has been documented to show North Korean forced labor products entering the U.S., which is a federal crime. It has been reported that North Korea sends tens of thousands abroad, bringing in revenue estimated at $200-$500 million per year as Kim Jong Un keeps a large percentage of the salaries. According to the AP, the North Korean workers in China remain under constant surveillance and live in forced labor conditions.

In August, 2017 President Trump signed legislation which makes it a crime to import products made by North Korean workers anywhere in the world and authorizes new economic sanctions against North Korea on goods produced by North Korean forced labor. The new U.S. law labels all North Korean workers, both in North Korea and abroad, as forced labor. Customs is reviewing the report and considering enforcement measures including prohibiting goods from entering the U.S. In addition, if Customs finds evidence of forced labor, the matter will be turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) - Homeland Security for a criminal investigation. Importers are encouraged to review their supply chains to ensure that their goods are not manufactured by slave or forced labor.