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OFAC Issues Helpful Guidance regarding North Korea Sanctions for Businesses with Supply Chains in Asia, Middle East, and Africa

Most US and multi-national corporations are quick to say, “we don’t do business with North Korea.” However, some companies will recognize the risk of sourcing products from businesses located outside North Korea that may use North Korean overseas workers or subcontract to North Korean companies. They worry about just how to reduce this risk.

On July 23, 2018, OFAC issued a useful Guidance document that provides businesses a helping hand. It:

  1. Clarifies that the US is not seeking to disrupt the efforts of North Korean refugees and asylum seekers and says that if North Koreans gain another citizenship they are no longer considered North Korean for purposes of US sanctions, in particular, Title III, the Korean Interdiction and Modernization of Sanctions Act of the Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanctions Act;
  2. Provides a list of industries and countries in which North Korean laborers working on behalf of the North Korean Government were present in 2017-18 (at page 3). While the list of countries is long, it at least narrows somewhat the supply chain sourcing concerns to certain parts of Asia, Africa, and the Middle East;
  3. Provides in Annex 3 a sectoral breakdown of where North Korean laborers are working on behalf of the North Korean Government overseas by sector. While Annex 3 states that it is NOT a comprehensive list of all countries, jurisdictions and industries, it is helpful in highlighting some higher risk jurisdictions by sector.  For example, the Information Technology sector is warned about Angola, Bangladesh, China, Laos, Nigeria, Uganda, and Vietnam; and
  4. Provides in Annex 2 a list of joint ventures that have operated or are currently operating in North Korea established prior to 2016, organized by industry sector. Again, this is not a comprehensive list, nor is it an SDN or blocked parties list, but it is a list that companies evaluating suppliers in Asia and China in particular may wish to check as they evaluate potential suppliers.


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