U.S. Customs and Border Protection will block U.S. imports of seafood and other goods produced by North Koreans that are working in China, The Washington Post reports.
An Associated Press investigation tracked salmon, squid and cod processed by North Koreans working at Chinese factories and shipped to American stores, including Walmart and ALDI. The North Korean workers found in Chinese factories aren’t allowed to leave, and receive only a fraction of their pay, while most of it goes to the North Korean state.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection said in a statement Thursday that it is reviewing the allegations, noting that if the claims are confirmed – they would “pursue all enforcement actions and prohibit goods from importation as appropriate.”
GOP Congressman Chris Smith from New Jersey, who has repeatedly called for tougher enforcement, said the Labor Department has already identified trafficking in 12 sectors of goods exported by China, AP adds.
A White House National Security Council spokesman said the North Korean government’s scheme to outsource its labor highlights why the United States has pushed for restrictions on North Korean foreign workers. The spokesman said all countries should, at a minimum, ban companies from bringing in North Korean crews, as pledged in recent United Nations sanctions.
China is among the countries that have promised to cooperate, already banning imports of North Korean seafood, adding no more North Korean workers will be allowed starting next year.