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March 16, 2022

US seizes Li-Ning imports on North Korea forced labour concerns

Goods from Chinese sportswear giant Li-Ning Sporting Goods are to be seized by US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) after the authority alleged an investigation indicated the use of North Korean labour in its supply chain.

By Hannah Abdulla

All Li-Ning merchandise bound for the US will be held at ports the US, CBP said.

The Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) prohibits the entry of goods, wares, and articles mined, produced, or manufactured wholly or in part 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 forced labour. 

“Such merchandise will not be entitled to entry unless the importer provides clear and convincing evidence that their merchandise was not produced with convict labour, forced labour, or indentured labour,” the agency said.

“If the company fails to provide clear and convincing evidence within this time frame, the merchandise may be subject to seizure and forfeiture.”

CBP Office of Trade executive assistant commissioner, AnnMarie Highsmith, adds: “CAATSA is yet another tool in CBP’s trade enforcement arsenal that allows us to uphold the fundamental value of human dignity and to ensure the goods that enter the United States are free from forced labour.”

Beijing-based Li-Ning did not comment at time of press.

The sneaker giant has enjoyed significant success in its home market in recent years, particularly after Chinese citizens moved to boycott major brand names including Nike, Inc on anger over position statements about forced labour concerns in the Xinjiang region.

Since the end of March 2021, Li-Ning has seen its shares jump more than 84%.

Li-Ning owns a majority stake in LionRock Capital Partners which owns the Clarks footwear brand.

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