The Washington Post reports: There are few areas in the North Korean economy, outside its nuclear weapons program, that could be called booming. But the garment industry has been one of them.
Over the past few years, North Korea has been sending increasing numbers of seamstresses to China to sew clothes for international buyers, and it also has been encouraging the expansion of the garment industry at home.
There are factories around the country producing suits, dresses and children’s clothes — almost all of which are labeled “Made in China.”
That should all theoretically come to an end now, after the United Nations Security Council unanimously decided this week to prohibit North Korea from exporting labor and textiles, adding to existing sanctions on coal, iron ore and seafood.
“Today’s resolution bans all textile exports,” Nikki Haley, the United States’ ambassador to the United Nations, said Monday when the resolution passed. “That’s an almost $800 million hit to its revenue.”
North Korea exported about $725 million worth of clothing last year, according to South Korea’s trade-promotion agency, making it a significant source of income for the cash-strapped country.
Adding textiles to the sanctions list means that more than 90 percent of North Korea’s publicly reported exports last year are now banned, Haley said. Coal, iron ore and seafood exports were prohibited in a previous resolution.
While diplomats have been describing this week’s ban as being on “textiles,” economists say it should more accurately be called a “garment” ban. North Korea does not export bolts of fabric but instead produces labor-intensive articles of clothing. [Continue reading…]