US’ CBP begins detaining merchandise produced by North Korean labour

The US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has begun detaining merchandise produced or manufactured by certain companies, including the Zhejiang Sunrise Garment Group Co Ltd, at all US ports of entry from December 5, 2022. The enforcement action is based on a CBP investigation that these companies use North Korean labour in their supply chains.

The use of North Korean labour is a violation of the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), which prohibits the entry of goods, wares, and articles mined, produced, or manufactured wholly or in party by North Korean nationals or North Korean citizens anywhere in the world, unless clear and convincing evidence is provided that such goods were not made with convict labour, forced labour, or indentured labour under penal sanctions.

“Pursuant to CAATSA, CBP will detain merchandise from these entities (companies) at all US ports of entry unless there is clear and convincing evidence that forced labour was not present at any stage of the production process. Evidence must be provided within 30 days of notice of detention. If the importer fails to provide clear and convincing evidence within this timeframe, the merchandise may be subject to seizure and forfeiture,” the CBP said in a media release.

“CBP is committed to keeping America’s supply chains free of goods produced with forced labour and to eliminating this horrific practice,” said CBP Office of Trade Executive Assistant Commissioner AnnMarie R Highsmith. “North Korea’s forced labour system operates both domestically and internationally and supports the North Korean government’s weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programmes, and it is also a major human rights violation. Legally and morally, we cannot allow these goods into our commerce.”